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Whitman 
PS 

3220 

.Al 

1882    LIBRA 

Brigham  Younqf  Ljiiyersity 


BRIGHAM  YOUNG  UNIVERSITY 


3  1197  22387  6597 


A  COLLECTION  OF 
FIRST  EDITIONS 

brought  together  by 

FRED  A.  AND  FRANCES 
ROSENSTOCK 


acquired  by  the  Library  with  the 
assistance  of  the  classes  of  1 942, 
1 948,    I95I,    I960,  and    I96I. 


__ 


CCiTTWTV 


c,0>C£c<&c 


By  WALT  WHITMAN, 

Author  of  "  Leaves  of  Grass." 


PHILADELPHIA: 

REES    WELSH    &    CO., 

No.  23  South  Ninth  Street. 

i882-'83. 


Copyright,  1882. 
By  WALT  WHITMAN. 

All  Rights  Reserved. 


.    CONTENTS. 

SPECIMEN  DA  VS. 

PAGE 

A  Happy  Day's  Command,  ...... 7 

Answer  to  an  Insisting  Friend, , 8 

Genealogy — Van  Velsor  and  Whitman The  Old  Whitman  and  Van  Velsor  Cemeteries,  9 

The  Maternal  Homestead Two  Old  Family  Interiors,    .     .     , 11 

Paumanok,  and  My  Life  on  it  as  Child  and  Young  Man,  .    . 12 

My  First  Reading — Lafayette, 14 

Printing  Office — Old  Brooklyn, 15 

Growth — Health — Work My  Passion  for  Ferries, 16 

Broadway  Sights, -^    . Zy 

Omnibus  Jaunts  and  Drivers, 18 

Plays  and  Operas  too, jo 

Through  Eight  Years Sources  of  Character — Results — 1860, 20 

Opening  of  the  Secession  War National  Uprising  and  Volunteering, 21 

Contemptuous  Feeling Battle  of  Bull  Run,  July,  1861, 22 

The  Stupor  Passes — Something  Else  Begins, 25 

Down  at  the  Front After  First  Fredericksburg, 26 

Back  to  Washington, 27 

Fifty  Hours  Left  Wounded  on  the  Field, 28 

Hospital  Scenes  and  Persons, 29 

Patent-Office  Hospital, 30 

The  White  House  by  Moonlight An  Army  Hospital  Ward 31 

A  Connecticut  Case Two  Brooklyn  Boys, 32 

A  Secesh  Brave The  Wounded  from  Chancellorsville * 33 

A  Night  Battle  over  a  Week  Since, 34 

Unnamed  Remains  the  Bravest  Soldier Some  Specimen  Cases, 36 

My  Preparations  for  Visits, 38 

Ambulance  Processions Bad  Wounds — the  Young, 39 

The  Most  Inspiriting  of  all  War's  Shows 39 

Battle  of  Gettysburg A  Cavalry  Camp, 40 

A  New  York  Soldier, ."    .    .  41 

Home-Made  Music, 42 

Abraham  Lincoln, 43 

Heated  Term Soldiers  and  Talks, 44 

Death  of  a  Wisconsin  Officer, 45 

Hospitals  Ensemble, 46 

A  Silent  Night  Ramble, 47 

Spiritual  Characters  among  the  Soldiers Cattle  Droves  about  Washington,     ...  48 

Hospital  Perplexity, 48 

Down  at  the  Front, 49 

Paying  the  Bounties Rumors,  Changes,  &c Virginia, 50 

Summer  of  1864, 51 

A  New  Army  Organization  fit  for  America Death  of  a  Hero, 52 

Hospital  Scenes — Incidents, 53 

A  Yankee  Soldier Union  Prisoners  South, 54 

Deserters A  Glimpse  of  War's  Hell-Scenes, 55 

Gifts — Money — Discrimination Items  from  My  Note  Books, -57 

A  Case  from  Second  Bull  Run Army  Surgeons — Aid  Deficiencies 58 

The  Blue  Everywhere A  Model  Hospital, 59 

Boys  in  the  Army Burial  of  a  Lady  Nurse, 60 

Female  Nurses  for  Soldiers Southern  Escapees, 61 

The  Capitol  by  Gas-Light ...The  Inauguration, 63 

(iii) 


iv  CONTENTS. 

PAGE 

Attitude  of  Foreign  Governments  During  the  War,     .    , 64 

The  Weather — Does  it  Sympathize  with  These  Times  ? 65 

Inauguration  Ball Scene  at  the  Capitol, 66 

A  Yankee  Antique, 67 

Wounds  and  Diseases..  .....Death  of  President  Lincoln, 68 

Sherman's  Army's  Jubilation — its  Sudden  Stoppage, 69 

No  Good  Portrait  of  Lincoln Releas'd  Union  Prisoners  from  South, 69 

Death  of  a  Pennsylvania  Soldier, 71 

The  Armies  Returning, 72 

The  Grand  Review Western  Soldiers, 73 

A  Soldier  on  Lincoln Hwo  Brothers,  one  South,  one  North, 74 

Some  Sad  Cases  yet, 75 

Calhoun's  Real  Monument Hospitals  Closing, 76 

Typical  Soldiers, 77 

"  Convulsiveness  " Three  Years  Summ'd  up, 78 

The  Million  Dead,  too,  Summ'd  up, 79 

The  Real  War  will  never  get  in  the  Books, .80 

An  Interregnum  Paragraph, 81 

New  Themes  Enter'd  Upon,     .    ; 82 

Entering  a  Long  Farm-Lane To  the  Spring  and  Brook An  Early  Summer  Reveille,     83 

Birds  Migrating  at  Midnight Bumble-Bees 84 

Cedar-Apples, 86 

Summer  Sights  and  Indolences Sundown  Perfume — Quail-Notes — the  Hermit  Thrush,     87 

A  July  Afternoon  by  the  Pond, 88 

Locusts  and  Katy-Dids The  Lesson  of  a  Tree, • 89 

Autumn  Side-Bits, 91 

The  Sky — Days  and  Nights — Happiness, 92 

Colors — A  Contrast November  8, '76, 93 

Crows  and  Crows A  Winter-Day  on  the  Sea-Beach, 94 

Sea-Shore  Fancies, 95 

In  Memory  of  Thomas  Paine, 96 

A  Two  Hours'  Ice-Sail, 97 

Spring  Overtures — Recreations One  of  the  Human  Kinks 98 

An  Afternoon  Scene The  Gates  Opening, 99 

The  Common  Earth,  the  Soil ...Birds  and  Birds  and  Birds, 100 

Full-Starr'd  Nights, 101 

Mulleins  and  Mulleins Distant  Sounds, 102 

A  Sun-Bath — Nakedness, 103 

The  Oaks  and  I, 104 

A  Quintette, 105 

The  First  Frost — Mems Three  Young  Men's  Deaths, 106 

February  Days, 108 

A  Meadow  Lark.. ...... .Sundown  Lights, no 

Thoughts  Under  an  Oak — A  Dream Clover  and  Hay  Perfume An  Unknown,  in 

Bird  Whistling Horse-Mint Three  of  Us, 112 

Death  of  William  Cullen  Bryant, 113 

Jaunt  up  the  Hudson Happiness  and  Raspberries, 114 

A  Specimen  Tramp  Family, 115 

Manhattan  from  the  Bay, 116 

Human  and  Heroic  New  York, 117 

Hours  for  the  Soul 118 

Straw-Color'd  and  other  Psyches, 121 

A  Night  Remembrance Wild  Flowers, 122 


CONTENTS.  v 

PAGE 

A  Civility  Too  Long  Neglected, 123 

Delaware  River — Days  and  Nights Scenes  on  Ferry  and  River — Last  Winter's  Nights,  124 

The  First  Spring  Day  on  Chestnut  Street, 128 

Up  the  Hudson  to  Ulster  County, 129 

Days  at  J.  B.'s — Turf  Fires— Spring  Songs, 130 

Meeting  a  Hermit An  Ulster  County  Waterfall Walter  Dumont  and  his  Medal,  131 

Hudson  River  Sights, 132 

Two  City  Areas  Certain  Hours, 133 

Central  Park  Walks  and  Talks, 134 

A  Fine  Afternoon,  4  to  6, 135 

Departing  of  the  Big  Steamers Two  Hours  on  the  Minnesota, 136 

Mature  Summer  Days  and  Nights, 137 

Exposition  Building — New  City  Hall — River-Trip, 138 

Swallows  on  the  River Begin  a  Long  Jaunt  West In  the  Sleeper, 139 

Missouri  State, 140 

Lawrence  and  Topeka,  Kansas The  Prairies — (and  an  Undeliver'd  Speech,) .    .     .  141 

On  to  Denver — A  Frontier  Incident An  Hour  on  Kenosha  Summit 142 

An  Egotistical  "  Find" New  Scenes — New  Joys, 143 

Steam-Power,  Telegraphs,  &c America's  Back-Bone, 144 

The  Parks Art  Features, 145 

Denver  Impressions, 146 

I  Turn  South,  and  then  East  Again, 147 

Unfulfill'd  Wants — the  Arkansas  River A  Silent  Little  Follower — the  Coreopsis,  .  148 

The  Prairies  and  Great  Plains  in  Poetry The  Spanish  Peaks — Evening  on  the  Plains,  149 

America's  Characteristic  Landscape Earth's  Most  Important  Stream, 150 

Prairie  Analogies— the  Tree  Question Mississippi  Valley  Literature, 151 

An  Interviewer's  Item 152 

The  Women  of  the  West The  Silent  General, 153 

President  Hayes's  Speeches, 154 

St.  Louis  Memoranda Nights  on  the  Mississippi, 155 

Upon  our  Own  Land Edgar  Poe's  Significance, 156 

Beethoven's  Septette, 158 

A  Hint  of  Wild  Nature Loafing  in  the  Woods, 159 

A  Contralto  Voice ..Seeing  Niagara  to  Advantage 160 

Jaunting  to  Canada Sunday  with  the  Insane, 161 

Reminiscence  of  Elias  Hicks Grand  Native  Growth, 162 

A  Zollverein  between  the  U.  S.  and  Canada The  St.  Lawrence  Line, 163 

The  Savage  Saguenay ...Capes  Eternity  and  Trinity 164 

Chicoutimi,  and  Ha-ha  Bay The  Inhabitants — Good  Living, 165 

Cedar-Plums  Like— Names, 165 

Death  of  Thomas  Carlyle, 168 

Carlyle  from  American  Points  of  View, 170 

A  Couple  of  Old  Friends — A  Coleridge  Bit, 178 

A  Week's  Visit  to  Boston, 179 

The  Boston  of  To-Day My  Tribute  to  Four  Poets 180 

Millet's  Pictures— Last  Items, 181 

Birds,  and  a  Caution, 182 

Samples  of  my  Common-Place  Book, 183 

My  Native  Sand  and  Salt  Once  More, 185 

Hot  Weather  New  York 186 

"  Custer's  Last  Rally," 187 

Some  Old  Acquaintances — Memories A  Discovery  of  Old  Age 188 

A  Visit  at  the  Last  to  R.  W.  Emerson 189 


vi  CONTENTS. 

PAGB 

Other  Concord  Notations, 190 

Boston  Common — More  of  Emerson, 191 

An  Ossianic  Night — Dearest  Friends, 192 

Only  a  New  Ferry  Boat Death  of  Longfellow 193 

Starting  Newspapers, 194 

The  Great  Unrest  of  which  We  are  a  Part, 196 

By  Emerson's  Grave, 197 

At  Present  Writing — Personal After  Trying  a  Certain  Book, 198 

Final  Confessions — Literary  Tests, 199 

Nature  and  Democracy — Morality,    . 200 

COJLLECT. 

One  or  Two  Index  Items, 202 

Democratic  Vistas 203 

Origins  of  Attempted  Secession, 258 

Preface,  1855,  to  first  issue  of  "  Leaves  of  Grass,'' 263 

Preface,  1872,  to  "As  a  Strong  Bird  on  Pinions  Free," 275 

Preface,  1876,  to  L.  of  G.  and  "  Two  Rivulets,"  Centennial  Edition, 280 

Poetry  To-Day  in  America — Shakspere — the  Future, 288 

A  Memorandum  at  a  Venture, 302 

Death  of  Abraham  Lincoln, 306 

Two  Letters, • 315 

Notes  Left  Over. 
Nationality  (and  Yet), , 317 

Emerson's  Books  (the  Shadows  of  Them), 319 

Ventures  on  an  Old  Theme, , 322 

British  Literature, ■ 324 

Darwinism  (then  Furthermore), 326 

"  Society," 327 

The  Tramp  and  Strike  Questions, 329 

Democracy  in  the  New  World 330 

Foundation  Stages — then  Others General  Suffrage,  Elections,  &c. 331 

Who  Gets  the  Plunder  ? 332 

Friendship  (the  Real  Article) Lacks  and  Wants  Yet, 333 

Rulers  Strictly  Out  of  the  Masses, 334 

Monuments — the  Past  and  Present Little  or  Nothing  New  After  All, 335 

A  Lincoln  Reminiscence, 335 

Freedom, 336 

Book-Classes — America's  Literature Our  Real  Culmination, 357 

An  American  Problem The  Last  Collective  Compaction, 338 

Pieces  in  Early  Youth. 

Dough-Face  Song, 339        Lingave's  Temptation, 366 

Death  in  the  School-Room, 340        Little  Jane, 369 

One  Wicked  Impulse, 344        Dumb  Kate, 370 

The  Last  Loyalist, 349        Talk  to  an  Art  Union Blood-Money,  372 

Wild  Frank's  Return, 353  Wounded  in  the  House  of  Friends,          .  373 

The  Boy  Lover, 357  Sailing  the  Mississippi  at  Midnight,  .    .  374 

The  Child  and  the  Profligate,    .    ,    ,    ,  361 


SPECIMEN  DAYS. 


A  HAPPY  HOUR'S  COMMAND. 

Down  in  the  Woods,  July  2d,  1882. — If  I  do  it  at  all  I  must 
delay  no  longer.  Incongruous  and  full  of  skips  and  jumps  as 
is  that  huddle  of  diary-jottings,  war- memoranda  of  i862-'65, 
Nature-notes  of  1877-81,  with  Western  and  Canadian  observa- 
tions afterwards,  all  bundled  up  and  tied  by  a  big  string,  the 
resolution  and  indeed  mandate  comes  to  me  this  day,  this  hour, 
— (and  what  a  day !  what  an  hour  just  passing  !  the  luxury  of 
riant  grass  and  blowing  breeze,  with  all  the  shows  of  sun  and  sky 
and  perfect  temperature,  never  before  so  filling  me  body  and  soul) 
— to  go  home,  untie  the  bundle,  reel  out  diary-scraps  and  mem- 
oranda, just  as  they  are,  large  or  small,  one  after  another,  into 
print-pages,*  and  let  the  melange's  lackings  and  wants  of  connec- 

*  The  pages  from  8  to  20  are  nearly  verbatim  an  off-hand  letter  of  mine 
in  January,  1882,  to  an  insisting  friend.  Following,  I  give  some  gloomy  ex- 
periences. The  war  of  attempted  secession  has,  of  course,  been  the  distin- 
guishing event  of  my  time.  I  commenced  at  the  close  of  1862,  and  contin- 
ued steadily  through  '63,  '64,  and  '65,  to  visit  the  sick  and  wounded  of  the 
army,  both  on  the  field  and  in  the  hospitals  in  and  around  Washington  city. 
From  the  first  I  kept  little  note- books  for  impromptu  jottings  in  pencil  to  re- 
fresh my  memory  of  names  and  circumstances,  and  what  was  specially  wanted, 
&c.  In  these  I  brief  d  cases,  persons,  sights,  occurrences  in  camp,  by  the  bed- 
side, and  not  seldom  by  the  corpses  of  the  dead.  Some  were  scratch'd  down 
from  narratives  I  heard  and  itemized  while  watching,  or  waiting,  or  tending 
somebody  amid  those  scenes.  I  have  dozens  of  such  little  note-books  left, 
forming  a  special  history  of  those  years,  for  myself  alone,  full  of  associations 
never  to  be  possibly  said  or  sung.  I  wish  I  could  convey  to  the  reader 
the  associations  that  attach  to  these  soil'd  and  creas'd  livraisons,  each  com- 
posed of  a  sheet  or  two  of  paper,  folded  small  to  carry  in  the  pocket,  and  fast- 
en'd  with  a  pin.  I  leave  them  just  as  I  threw  them  by  after  the  war,  blotch'd 
here  and  there  with  more  than  one  blood-stain,  hurriedly  written,  sometimes 
at  the  clinique,  not  seldom  amid  the  excitement  of  uncertainty,  or  defeat,  or 
of  action,  or  getting  reacfy  for  it,  or  a  march.  Most  of  the  pages  from  26  to 
81  are  verbatim  copies  of  those  lurid  and  blood-smutch' d  little  note-books. 

Very  different  are  most  of  the  memoranda  that  follow.  Some  time  after  the 
war  ended  I  had  a  paralytic  stroke,  which  prostrated  me  for  several  years.  In 
18.76  I  began  to  get  over  the  worst  of  it.  From  this  date,  portions  of  several 
seasons,  especially  summers,  I  spent  at  a  secluded  haunt  down  in  Camden 
county,  New  Jersey — Timber  creek,  quite  a  little  river  (it  enters  from  the, 

(7) 


8 


SPECIMEN  DA  VS. 


tion  take  care  of  themselves.  It  will  illustrate  one  phase  of  hu- 
manity anyhow;  how  few  of  life's  days  and  hours  (and  they  not 
by  relative  value  or  proportion,  but  by  chance)  are  ever  noted. 
Probably  another  point  too,  how  we  give  long  preparations  for 
some  object,  planning  and  delving  and  fashioning,  and  then, 
when  the  actual  hour  for  doing  arrives,  find  ourselves  still  quite 
unprepared,  and  tumble  the  thing  together,  letting  hurry  and 
crudeness  tell  the  story  better  than  fine  work.  At  any  rate  I  obey 
my  happy  hour's  command,  which  seems  curiously  imperative. 
May-be,  if  I  don't  do  anything  else,  I  shall  send  out  the  most 
wayward,  spontaneous,  fragmentary  book  ever  printed. 

ANSWER  TO  AN  INSISTING  FRIEND. 

You  ask  for  items,  details  of  my  early  life — of  genealogy  and 
parentage,  particularly  of  the  women  of  my  ancestry,  and  of  its 
far  back  Netherlands  stock  on  the  maternal  side — of  the  region 
where  I  was  born  and  raised,  and  my  father  and  mother  before 
me,  and  theirs  before  them — with  a  word  about  Brooklyn  and 
New  York  cities,  the  times  I  lived  there  as  lad  and  young  man. 
You  say  you  want  to  get  at  these  details  mainly  as  the  go-befores 
and  embryons  of  "Leaves  of  Grass."  Very  good ;  you  shall 
have  at  least  some  specimens  of  them  all.  I  have  often  thought 
of  the  meaning  of  such  things — that  one  can  only  encompass  and 
complete  matters  of  that  kind  by  exploring  behind,  perhaps  very 
far  behind,  themselves  directly,  and  so  into  their  genesis,  ante- 
cedents, and  cumulative  stages.  Then  as  luck  would  have  it,  I 
lately  whiled  away  the  tedium  of  a  week's  half-sickness  and  con- 
finement, by  collating  these  very  items  for  another  (yet  unful- 
fill'd,  probably  abandon'd,)  purpose;  and  if  you  will  be  satisfied 
with  them,  authentic  in  date-occurrence  and  fact  simply,  and 
told  my  own  way,  garrulous- like,  here  they  are.  I  shall  not  hesi- 
tate to  make  extracts,  for  I  catch  at  any  thing  to  save  labor ;  but 
those  will  be  the  best  versions  of  what  I  want  to  convey. 

great  Delaware,  twelve  miles  away) — with  primitive  solitudes,  winding 
stream,  recluse  and  woody  banks,  sweet-feeding  springs,  and  all  the  charms 
that  birds,  grass,  wild-flowers,  rabbits  and  squirrels,  old  oaks,  walnut  trees, 
&c,  can  bring.  Through  these  times,  and  on  these  spots,  the  diary  from  page 
83  onward  was  mostly  written. 

The  Collect  afterward  gathers  up  the  odds  and  ends  of  whatever  pieces  I 
can  now  lay  hands  on,  written  at  various  times  past,  and  swoops  all  together  like 
fish  in  a  net. 

I  suppose  I  publish  and  leave  the  whole  gathering,  first,  from  that  eternal 
tendency  to  perpetuate  and  preserve  which  is  behind  all  Nature,  authors  in- 
cluded; second,  to  symbolize  two  or  three  specimen  interiors,  personal  and 
other,  out  of  the  myriads  of  my  time,  the  middle  range  of  the  Nineteenth 
century  in  the  New  World  ;  a  strange,  unloosen'd,  wondrous  time.  But  the 
book  is  probably  without  any  definite  purpose  that  can  be  told  in  a  statement. 


SPECIMEN  DA  VS.  g 

GENEALOGY— VAN  VELSOR  AND  WHITMAN. 

The  later  years  of  the  last  century  found  the  Van  Velsor  family, 
my  mother's  side,  living  on  their  own  farm  at  Cold  Spring,  Long 
Island,  New  York  State,  near  the  eastern  edge  of  Queens  county, 
about  a  mile  from  the  harbor.*  My  father's  side — probably  the 
fifth  generation  from  the  first  English  arrivals  in  New  England — 
were  at  the  same  time  farmers  on  their  own  land — (and  a  fine 
domain  it  was,  500  acres,  all  good  soil,  gently  sloping  east  and 
south,  about  one-tenth  woods,  plenty  of  grand  old  trees,)  two  or 
three  miles  off,  at  West  Hills,  Suffolk  county.  The  Whitman 
name  in  the  Eastern  States,  and  so  branching  West  and  South, 
starts  undoubtedly  from  one  John  Whitman,  born  1602,  in  Old 
England,  where  he  grew  up,  married,  and  his  eldest  son  was  born 
in  1629.  He  came  over  in  the  " True  Love"  in  1640  to  America, 
and  lived  in  Weymouth,  Mass.,  which  place  became  the  mother- 
hive  of  the  New-Englanders  of  the  name  :  he  died  in  1692.  His 
brother,  Rev.  Zechariah  Whitman,  also  came  over  in  the  "True 
Love,,,  either  at  that  time  or  soon  after,  and  lived  at  Milford, 
Conn.  A  son  of  this  Zechariah,  named  Joseph,  migrated  to 
Huntington,  Long  Island,  and  permanently  settled  there. 
Savage's  "Genealogical  Dictionary"  (vol.  iv,  p.  524)  gets  the 
Whitman  family  establish'd  at  Huntington,  per  this  Joseph,  be- 
fore 1664.  It  is  quite  certain  that  from  that  beginning,  and 
from  Joseph,  the  West  Hill  Whitmans,  and  all  others  in  Suffolk 
county,  have  since  radiated,  myself  among  the  number.  John 
and  Zechariah  both  went  to  England  and  back  again  divers 
times;  they  had  large  families,  and  several  of  their  children  were 
born  in  the  old  country.  We  hear  of  the  father  of  John  and 
Zechariah,  Abijah  Whitman,  who  goes  over  into  the  1500's,  but 
we  know  little  about  him,  except  that  he  also  was  for  some  time 
in  America. 

These  old  pedigree-reminiscences  come  up  to  me  vividly  from 
a  visit  I  made  not  long  since  (in  my  63d  year)  to  West  Hills, 
and  to  the  burial  grounds  of  my  ancestry,  both  sides.  I  extract 
from  notes  of  that  visit,  written  there  and  then  : 

THE  OLD  WHITMAN  AND  VAN  VELSOR  CEMETERIES. 

July  2p,  1881. — After  more  than  forty  years'  absence,  (except  a 
brief  visit,  to  take  my  father  there  once  more,  two  years  before 
he  died,)  went  down  Long  Island  on  a  week's  jaunt  to  the  place 

*  Long  Island  was  settled  first  on  the  west  end  by  the  Dutch,  from  Hol- 
land, then  on  the  east  end  by  the  English — the  dividing  line  of  the  two 
nationalities  being  a  little  west  of  Huntington,  where  my  father's  folks  lived, 
and  where  I  was  born. 


IO  SPECIMEN  DA  YS. 

where  I  was  born,  thirty  miles  from  New  York  city.  Rode 
around  the  old  familiar  spots,  viewing  and  pondering  and  dwell- 
ing long  upon  them,  everything  coming  back  to  me.  Went  to 
the  old  Whitman  homestead  on  the  upland  and  took  a  view  east- 
ward, inclining  south,  over  the  broad  and  beautiful  farm  lands 
of  my  grandfather  (1780,)  and  my  father.  There  was  the  new 
house  (1810,)  the  big  oak  a  hundred  and  fifty  or  two  hundred 
years  old;  there  the  well,  the  sloping  kitchen-garden,  and  a  little 
way  off  even  the  well-kept  remains  of  the  dwelling  of  my  great- 
grandfather (1750-' 60)  still  standing,  with  its  mighty  timbers 
and  low  ceilings.  Near  by,  a  stately  grove  of  tall,  vigorous  black- 
walnuts,  beautiful,  Apollo-like,  the  sons  or  grandsons,  no  doubt, 
of  black-walnuts  during  or  before  1776.  On  the  other  side  of 
the  road  spread  the  famous  apple  orchard,  over  twenty  acres,  the 
trees  planted  by  hands  long  mouldering  in  the  grave  (my  uncle 
Jesse's,)  but  quite  many  of  them  evidently  capable  of  throwing 
out  their  annual  blossoms  and  fruit  yet. 

I  now  write  these  lines  seated  on  an  old  grave  (doubtless  of  a 
century  since  at  least)  on  the  burial  hill  of  the  Whitmans  of  many 
generations.  Fifty  and  more  graves  are  quite  plainly  traceable, 
and  as  many  more  decay'd  out  of  all  form — depress'd  mounds, 
crumbled  and  broken  stones,  cover'd  with  moss — the  gray  and 
sterile  hill,  the  clumps  of  chestnuts  outside,  the  silence,  just  va- 
ried by  the  soughing  wind.  There  is  always  the  deepest  eloquence 
of  sermon  or  poem  in  any  of  these  ancient  graveyards  of  which 
Long  Island  has  so  many ;  so  what  must  this  one  have  been  to 
me?  My  whole  family  history,  with  its  succession  of  links,  from 
the  first  settlement  down  to  date,  told  here — three  centuries  con- 
centrate on  this  sterile  acre. 

The  next  day,  July  30,  I  devoted  to  the  maternal  locality,  and 
if  possible  was  still  more  penetrated  and  impress' d.  I  write  this 
paragraph  on  the  burial  hill  of  the  Van  Velsors,  near  Cold  Spring, 
the  most  significant  depository  of  the  dead  that  could  be  im- 
agin'd,  without  the  slightest  help  from  art,  but  far  ahead  of  it, 
soil  sterile,  a  mostly  bare  plateau-flat  of  half  an  acre,  the  top  of 
a  hill,  brush  and  well  grown  trees  and  dense  woods  bordering  all 
around,  very  primitive,  secluded,  no  visitors,  no  road  (you  can- 
not drive  here,  you  have  to  bring  the  dead  on  foot,  and  follow 
on  foot.)  Two  or  three-score  graves  quite  plain  ;  as  many  more 
almost  rubb'd  out.  My  grandfather  Cornelius  and  my  grand- 
mother Amy  (Naomi)  and  numerous  relatives  nearer  or  remoter, 
on  my  mother's  side,  lie  buried  here.  The  scene  as  I  stood  or 
sat,  the  delicate  and  wild  odor  of  the  woods,  a  slightly  drizzling 
rain,  the  emotional  atmosphere  of  the  place,  and  the  inferr'd 
reminiscences,  were  fitting  accompaniments. 


SEE  CI  MEN  DA  VS.  j  j 

THE  MATERNAL  HOMESTEAD. 

I  went  down  from  this  ancient  grave  place  eighty  or  ninety 
rods  to  the  site  of  the  Van  Velsor  homestead,  where  my  mother 
was  born  (1795,)  anc^  where  every  spot  had  been  familiar  to  me 
as  a  child  and  youth  (1 825-' 40.)  Then  stood  there  a  long 
rambling,  dark-gray,  shingle-sided  house,  with  sheds,  pens,  a  great 
barn,  and  much  open  road-space.  Now  of  all  those  not  a  vestige 
left ;  all  had  been  pull'd  down,  erased,  and  the  plough  and  har- 
row pass'd  over  foundations,  road-spaces  and  everything,  for  many 
summers;  fenced  in  at  present,  and  grain  and  clover  growing 
like  any  other  fine  fields.  Only  a  big  hole  from  the  cellar,  with 
some  little  heaps  of  broken  stone,  green  with  grass  and  weeds, 
identified  the  place.  Even  the  copious  old  brook  and  spring 
seem'd  to  have  mostly  dwindled  away.  The  whole  scene,  with 
what  it  arous'd,  memories  of  my  young  days  there  half  a  century 
ago,  the  vast  kitchen  and  ample  fireplace  and  the  sitting-room 
adjoining,  the  plain  furniture,  the  meals,  the  house  full  of  merry 
people,  my  grandmother  Amy's  sweet  old  face  in  its  Quaker  cap, 
my  grandfather  "the  Major,"  jovial,  red,  stout,  with  sonorous 
voice  and  characteristic  physiognomy,  with  the  actual  sights 
themselves,  made  the  most  pronounc'd  half-day's  experience  of 
my  whole  jaunt. 

For  there  with  all  those  wooded,  hilly,  healthy  surroundings, 
my  dearest  mother,  Louisa  Van  Velsor,  grew  up — (her  mother, 
Amy  Williams,  of  the  Friends'  or  Quakers'  denomination — the 
Williams  family,  seven  sisters  and  one  brother — the  father  and 
brother  sailors,  both  of  whom  met  their  deaths  at  sea.)  The 
Van  Velsor  people  were  noted  for  fine  horses,  which  the  men 
bred  and  train'd  from  blooded  stock.  My  mother,  as  a  young 
woman,  was  a  daily  and  daring  rider.  As  to  the  head  of  the 
family  himself,  the  old  race  of  the  Netherlands,  so  deeply  grafted 
on  Manhattan  island  and  in  Kings  and  Queens  counties,  never 
yielded  a  more  mark'd  and  full  Americanized  specimen  than 
Major  Cornelius  Van  Velsor. 

TWO  OLD  FAMILY  INTERIORS. 
Of  the  domestic  and  inside  life  of  the  middle  of  Long  Island, 
at  and  just  before  that  time,  here  are  two  samples : 

"  The  Whitmans,  at  the  beginning  of  the  present  century,  lived  in  a  long 
story-and-a-half  farm-house,  hugely  timber'd,  which  is  still  standing.  A 
great  smoke-canopied  kitchen,  with  vast  hearth  and  chimney,  form'd  one  end 
of  the  house.  The  existence  of  slavery  in  New  York  at  that  time,  and  the 
possession  by  the  family  of  some  twelve  or  fifteen  slaves,  house  and  field  ser- 
vants, gave  things  quite  a  patriarchal  look.  The  very  young  darkies  could  be 
seen,  a  swarm  of  them,  toward  sundown,  in  this  kitchen,  squatted  in  a  circle 
on  the  floor,  eating  their  supper  of  Indian  pudding  and  milk.     In  the  house, 


!  2  SPE  CI  MEN  DA  YS. 

and  in  food  and  furniture,  all  was  rude,  but  substantial.  No  carpets  or  stoves 
were  known,  and  no  coffee,  and  tea  or  sugar  only  for  the  women.  Rousing 
wood  fires  gave  both  warmth  and  light  on  winter  nights.  Pork,  poultry,  beef, 
and  all  the  ordinary  vegetables  and  grains  were  plentiful.  Cider  was  the 
men's  common  drink,  and  used  at  meals.  The  clothes  were  mainly  homespun. 
Tourneys  were  made  by  both  men  and  women  on  horseback.  Both  sexes 
labor' d  with  their  own  hands — the  men  on  the  farm — the  women  in  the  house 
and  around  it.  Books  were  scarce.  The  annual  copy  of  the  almanac  was  a 
treat,  and  was  pored  over  through  the  long  winter  evenings.  I  must  not  for- 
get to  mention  that  both  these  families  were  near  enough  to  the  sea  to  behold 
it  from  the  high  places,  and  to  hear  in  still  hours  the  roar  of  the  surf;  the 
latter,  after  a  storm,  giving  a  peculiar  sound  at  night  Then  all  hands,  male 
and  female,  went  down  frequently  on  beach  and  bathing  parties,  and  the  men 
on  practical  expeditions  for  cutting  salt  hay,  and  for  clamming  and  fishing." 
— John  Burroughs 's  Notes. 

"  The  ancestors  of  Walt  Whitman,  on  both  the  paternal  and  maternal  sides* 
kept  a  good  table,  sustain' d  the  hospitalities,  decorums,  and  an  excellent  so- 
cial reputation  in  the  county,  and  they  were  often  of  mark'd  individuality. 
If  space  permitted,  I  should  consider  some  of  the  men  worthy  special  descrip- 
tion; and  still  more  some  of  the  women.  His  great-gvandmother  on  the 
paternal  side,  for  instance,  was  a  large  swarthy  woman,  who  lived  to  a  very 
old  age.  She  smoked  tobacco,  rode  on  horseback  like  a  man,  managed  the 
most  vicious  horse,  and,  becoming  a  widow  in  later  life,  went  forth  every  day 
over  her  farm-lands,  frequently  in  the  saddle,  directing  the  labor  of  her  slaves, 
with  language  in  which,  on  exciting  occasions,  oaths  were  not  spared.  The 
two  immediate  grandmothers  were,  in  the  best  sense,  superior  women.  The 
maternal  one  (Amy  Williams  before  marriage)  was  a  Friend,  or  Quakeress, 
of  sweet,  sensible  character,  housewifely  proclivities,  and  deeply  intuitive  and 
spiritual.  The  other,  (Hannah  Brush,)  was  an  equally  noble,  perhaps  stronger 
character,  lived  to  be  very  old,  had  quite  a  family  of  sons,  was  a  natural  lady, 
was  in  early  life  a  school-mistress,  and  had  great  solidity  of  mind.  W.  W. 
himself  makes  much  of  the  women  of  his  ancestry." — The  same. 

Out  from  these  arrieres  of  persons  and  scenes,  I  was  born  May 
31,  18 19.  And  now  to  dwell  awhile  on  the  locality  itself — as 
the  successive  growth -stages  of  my  infancy,  childhood,  youth 
and  manhood  were  all  pass'd  on  Long  Island,  which  I  sometimes 
feel  as  if  I  had  incorporated.  I  roam'd,  as  boy  and  man,  and 
have  lived  in  nearly  all  parts,  from  Brooklyn  to  Montauk  point. 

PAUMANOK,  AND  MY  LIFE  ON  IT  AS  CHILD  AND  YOUNG  MAN. 

Worth   fully  and  particularly  investigating  indeed  this  Pau- 

manok,  (to  give  the  spot  its  aboriginal  name,*)  stretching  east 

*  "  Paumanok,  (or  Paumanake,  or  Paumanack,  the  Indian  name  of  Long 
Island,)  over  a  hundred  miles  long;  shaped  like  a  fish — plenty  of  sea  shore, 
sandy,  stormy,  uninviting,  the  horizon  boundless,  the  air  too  strong  for  in- 
valids, the  bays  a  wonderful  resort  for  aquatic  birds,  the  south-side  meadows 
cover'd  with  salt  hay,  the  soil  of  the  island  generally  tough,  but  good  for  the 
locust-tree,  the  apple  orchard,  and  the  blackberry,  and  with  numberless 
springs  of  the  sweetest  water  in  the  world..  Years  ago,  among  the  bay-men 
— a  strong,  wild  race,  now  extinct,  or  rather  entirely  changed — a  native  of 
Long  Island  was  called  a  Paumanacker,  or  Creole- Paumanacker." — John 
Burroughs. 


SPECIMEN  DA  YS. 


13 


through  Kings,  Queens  and  Suffolk  counties,  120  miles  altogether 
— on  the  north  Long  Island  sound,  a  beautiful,  varied  and  pic- 
turesque series  of  inlets,  "  necks"  and  sea-like  expansions,  for  a 
hundred  miles  to  Orient  point.  On  the  ocean  side  the  great 
south  bay  dotted  with  countless  hummocks,  mostly  small,  some 
quite  large,  occasionally  long  bars  of  sand  out  two  hundred  rods 
to  a  mile-and-a-haif  from  the  shore.  While  now  and  then,  as  at 
Rockaway  and  far  east  along  the  Hamptons,  the  beach  makes . 
right  on  the  island,  the  sea  dashing  up  without  intervention. 
Several  light-houses  on  the  shores  east ;  a  long  history  of  wrecks 
tragedies,  some  even  of  late  years.  As  a  youngster,  I  was  in  the 
atmosphere  and  traditions  of  many  of  these  wrecks — of  one  or 
two  almost  an  observer.  Off  Hempstead  beach  for  example,  was 
the  loss  of  the  ship  "Mexico"  in  1840,  (alluded  to  in  "the 
Sleepers"  in  L.  of  G.)  And  at  Hampton,  some  years  later,  the 
destruction  of  the  brig  "Elizabeth,"  a  fearful  affair,  in  one  of 
the  worst  winter  gales,  where  Margaret  Fuller  went  down,  with 
her  husband  and  child. 

Inside  the  outer  bars  or  beach  this  south  bay  is  everywhere 
comparatively  shallow ;  of  cold  winters  all  thick  ice  on  the  sur- 
face. As  a  boy  I  often  went  forth  with  a  chum  or  two,  on  those 
frozen  fields,  with  hand-sled,  axe  and  eel-spear,  after  messes  of 
eels.  We  would  cut  holes  in  the  ice,  sometimes  striking  quite 
an  eel-bonanza,  and  filling  our  baskets  with  great,  fat,  sweet, 
white-meated  fellows.  The  scenes,  the  ice,  drawing  the  hand- 
sled,  cutting  holes,  spearing  the  eels,  &c,  were  of  course  just 
such  fun  as  is  dearest  to  boyhood.  The  shores  of  this  bay, 
winter  and  summer,  and  my  doings  there  in  early  life,  are 
woven  all  through  L.  of  G.  One  sport  I  was  very  fond  of  was 
to  go  on  a  bay-party  in  summer  to  gather  sea-gull's  eggs.  (The 
gulls  lay  two  or  three  eggs,  more  than  half  the  size  of  hen's 
eggs,  right  on  the  sand,  and  leave  the  sun's  heat  to  hatch 
them.) 

The  eastern  end  of  Long  Island,  the  Peconic  bay  region,  I 
knew  quite  well  too — sail'd  more  than  once  around  Shelter 
island,  and  down  to  Montauk — spent  many  an  hour  on  Turtle 
hill  by  the  old  light-house,  on  the  extreme  point,  looking  out 
over  the  ceaseless  roll  of  the  Atlantic.  I  used  to  like  to  go  down 
there  and  fraternize  with  the  blue-fishers,  or  the  annual  squads  of 
sea-bass  takers.  Sometimes,  along  Montauk  peninsula,  (it  is 
some  15  miles  long,  and  good  grazing,)  met  the  strange,  unkempt, 
half- barbarous  herdsmen,  at  that  time  living  there  entirely  aloof 
from  society  or  civilization,  in  charge,  on  those  rich  pasturages, 
of  vast  droves  of  horses,  kine  or  sheep,  own'd  by  farmers  of  the 
eastern  towns.     Sometimes,  too,  the  few  remaining  Indians,  or 


I4  SPECIMEN  DA  YS. 

half-breeds,  at  that  period  left  on  Montauk  peninsula,  but  now  I 
believe  altogether  extinct. 

More  in  the  middle  of  the  island  were  the  spreading  Hemp- 
stead plains,  then  (1830-' 40)  quite  prairie-like,  open,  uninhabited, 
rather  sterile,  cover'd  with  kill-calf  and  huckleberry  bushes,  yet 
plenty  of  fair  pasture  for  the  cattle,  mostly  milch-cows,  who  fed 
there  by  hundreds,  even  thousands,  and  at  evening,  (the  plains 
too  were  own'd  by  the  towns,  and  this  was  the  use  of  them  in 
common,)  might  be  seen  taking  their  way  home,  branching  off 
regularly  in  the  right  places.  I  have  often  been  out  on  the  edges 
of  these  plains  toward  sundown,  and  can  yet  recall  in  fancy  the 
interminable  cow- processions,  and  hear  the  music  of  the  tin  or 
copper  bells  clanking  far  or  near,  and  breathe  the  cool  of  the 
sweet  and  slightly  aromatic  evening  air,  and  note  the  sunset. 

Through  the  same  region  of  the  island,  but  further  east,  ex- 
tended wide  central  tracts  of  pine  and  scrub-oak,  (charcoal  was 
largely  made  here,)  monotonous  and  sterile.  But  many  a  good 
day  or  half-day  did  I  have,  wandering  through  those  solitary 
cross-roads,  inhaling  the  peculiar  and  wild  aroma.  Here,  and  all 
along  the  island  and  its  shores,  I  spent  intervals  many  years,  all 
seasons,  sometimes  riding,  sometimes  boating,  but  generally  afoot, 
(I  was  always  then  a  good  walker,)  absorbing  fields,  shores,  marine 
incidents*  characters,  the  bay-men,  farmers,  pilots — always  had  a 
plentiful  acquaintance  with  the  latter,  and  with  fishermen — went 
every  summer  on  sailing  trips — always  liked  the  bare  sea-beach, 
south  side,  and  have  some  of  my  happiest  hours  on  it  to  this  day. 

As  I  write,  the  whole  experience  comes  back  to  me  after  the 
lapse  of  forty  and  more  years — the  soothing  rustle  of  the  waves, 
and  the  saline  smell — boyhood's  times,  the  clam-digging,  bare- 
foot, and  with  trowsers  roll'd  up — hauling  down  the  creek — the 
perfume  of  the  sedge-meadows — the  hay-boat,  and  the  chowder 
and  fishing  excursions  \ — or,  of  later  years,  little  voyages 
down  and  out  New  York  bay,  in  the  pilot  boats.  Those  same 
later  years,  also,  while  living  in  Brooklyn,  (1 836-' 50)  I  went  reg- 
ularly every  week  in  the  mild  seasons  down  to  Coney  island,  at 
that  time  a  long,  bare  unfrequented  shore,  which  I  had  all  to  my- 
self, and  where  I  loved,  after  bathing,  to  race  up  and  down  the 
hard  sand,  and  declaim  Homer  or  Shakspere  to  the  surf  and 
sea-gulls  by  the  hour.  But  I  am  getting  ahead  too  rapidly,  and 
must  keep  more  in  my  traces. 

MY  FIRST  READING.— LAFAYETTE. 
From  1824  to  '28  our  family  lived  in  Brooklyn  in  Front,  Cran- 
berry and  Johnson  streets.     In  the  latter  my  father  built  a  nice 
house  for  a  home,  and  afterwards  another  in  Tillary  street.     We 


SPECIMEN  DA  YS. 


*5 


occupied  them,  one  after  the  other,  but  they  were  mortgaged,  and 
we  lost  them.  I  yet  remember  Lafayette's  visit.*  Most  of  these 
years  I  went  to  the  public  schools.  It  must  have  been  about 
1829  or  '30  that  I  went  with  my  father  and  mother  to  hear  Elias 
Hicks  preach  in  a  ball-room  on  Brooklyn  heights.  At  about 
the  same  time  employ 'd  as  a  boy  in  an  office,  lawyers',  father 
and  two  sons,  Clarke's,  Fulton  street,  near  Orange.  I  had  a  nice 
desk  and  window-nook  to  myself;  Edward  C.  kindly  help'd  me 
at  my  handwriting  and  composition,  and,  (the  signal  event  of  my 
life  up  to  that  time,)  subscribed  for  me  to  a  big  circulating 
library.  For  a  time  I  now  revel'd  in  romance-reading  of  all 
kinds;  first,  the  "Arabian  Nights,"  all  the  volumes,  an  amazing 
treat.  Then,  with  sorties  in  very  many  other  directions,  took  in 
Walter  Scott's  novels,  one  after  another,  and  his  poetry,  (and 
continue  to  enjoy  novels  and  poetry  to  this  day.) 

PRINTING  OFFICE.— OLD  BROOKLYN. 

After  about  two  years  went  to  work  in  a  weekly  newspaper  and 
printing  office,  to  learn  the  trade.  The  paper  was  the  "  Long 
Island  Patriot,"  owned  by  S.  E.  Clements,  who  was  also  post- 
master. An  old  printer  in  the  office,  William  Hartshorne,  a  rev- 
olutionary character,  who  had  seen  Washington,  was  a  special 
friend  of  mine,  and  I  had  many  a  talk  with  him  about  long 
past  times.  The  apprentices,  including  myself,  boarded  with  his 
grand-daughter.  I  used  occasionally  to  go  out  riding  with  the 
boss,  who  was  very  kind  to  us  boys ;  Sundays  he  took  us  all  to 
a  great  old  rough,  fortress-looking  stone  church,  on  Joralemon 
street,  near  where  the  Brooklyn  city  hall  now  is — (at  that  time 
broad  fields  and  country  roads  everywhere  around,  f)     Afterward 

*  "On  the  visit  of  General  Lafayette  to  this  country,  in  1824,  he  came  over 
to  Brooklyn  in  state,  and  rode  through  the  city.  The  children  of  the  schools 
turn'd  out  to  join  in  the  welcome.  An  edifice  for  a  free  public  library  for 
youths  was  just  then  commencing,  and  Lafayette  consented  to  stop  on  his  way 
and  lay  the  corner-stone.  Numerous  children  arriving  on  the  ground,  where 
a  huge  irregular  excavation  for  the  building  was  already  dug,  surrounded 
with  heaps  of  rough  stone,  several  gentlemen  assisted  in  lifting  the  children 
to  safe  or  convenient  spots  to  see  the  ceremony.  Among  the  rest,  Lafayette, 
also  helping  the  children,  took  up  the  five-year-old  Walt  Whitman,  and  press- 
ing the  child  a  moment  to  his  breast,  and  giving  him  a  kiss,  handed  him  down 
to  a  safe  spot  in  the  excavation." — jfohn  Burroughs. 

f  Of  the  Brooklyn  of  that  time  (1830-40)  hardly  anything  remains,  ex- 
cept the  lines  of  the  old  streets.  The  population  was  then  between  ten  and 
twelve  thousand.  Por  a  mile  Fulton  street  was  lined  with  magnificent  elm 
trees.  The  character  of  the  place  was  thoroughly  rural.  As  a  sample  of  com- 
parative values,  it  may  be  mention'd  that  twenty-five  acres  in  what  is  now  the 
most  costly  part  of  the  city,  bounded  by  Flatbush  and  Fulton  avenues,  were 
then  bought  by  Mr.  Parmentier,  a  French  emigre,  for  $4000.  Who  remem- 
bers the  old  places  as  they  were  ?  Who  remembers  the  old  citizens  of  that  time  ? 


! 6  SPECIMEN  DA  VS. 

I  work'd  on  the  "Long  Island  Star,"  Alden  Spooner's  paper. 
My  father  all  these  years  pursuing  his  trade  as  carpenter  and 
builder,  with  varying  fortune.  There  was  a  growing  family  of 
children — eight  of  us — my  brother  Jesse  the  oldest,  myself  the 
second,  my  dear  sisters  Mary  and  Hannah  Louisa,  my  brothers  An- 
drew, George,  Thomas  Jefferson,  and  then  my  youngest  brother, 
Edward,  born  1835,  and  always  badly  crippled,  as  I  am  myself  of 
late  years. 

GROWTH— HEALTH— WORK. 

I  develop'd  (1833-4-5)  into  a  healthy,  strong  youth  (grew  too 
fast,  though,  was  nearly  as  big  as  a  man  at  15  or  16.)  Our  family 
at  this  period  moved  back  to  the  country,  my  dear  mother  very 
ill  for  a  long  time,  but  recover'd.  All  these  years  I  was  down 
Long  Island  more  or  less  every  summer,  now  east,  now  west, 
sometimes  months  at  a  stretch.  At  16,  17,  and  so  on,  was  fond 
of  debating  societies,  and  had  an  active  membership  with  them, 
off  and  on,  in  Brooklyn  and  one  or  two  country  towns  on  the 
island.  A  most  omnivorous  novel-reader,  these  and  later  years, 
devour'd  everything  I  could  get.  Fond  of  the  theatre,  also,  in 
New  York,  went  whenever  I  could — sometimes  witnessing  fine 
performances. 

1836-7,  work'd  as  compositor  in  printing  offices  in  New  York 
city.  Then,  when  little  more  than  eighteen,  and  for  a  while  af- 
terwards, went  to  teaching  country  schools  down  in  Queens  and 
Suffolk  counties,  Long  Island,  and  "boarded  round."  (This 
latter  I  consider  one  of  my  best  experiences  and  deepest  lessons 
in  human  nature  behind  the  scenes,  and  in  the  masses.)  In  '39, 
'40, 1  started  and  publish'd  a  weekly  paper  in  my  native  town, 
Huntington.  Then  returning  to  New  York  city  and  Brooklyn, 
work'd  on  as  printer  and  writer,  mostly  prose,  but  an  occasional 
shy  at  "poetry." 

MY  PASSION  FOR  FERRIES. 
Living  in  Brooklyn  or  New  York  city  from  this  time  forward, 
my  life,  then,  and  still  more  the  following  years,  was  curiously 
identified  with  Fulton  ferry,  already  becoming  the  greatest  of 
its  sort  in  the  world  for  general  importance,  volume,  variety,  ra- 
pidity, and  picturesqueness.     Almost  daily,  later,  ('50  to  '60,)  I 

Among  the  former  were  Smith  &  Wood's,  Coe  Downing's,  and  other  public 
houses  at  the  ferry,  the  old  Ferry  itself,  Love  lane,  the  Heights  as  then,  the 
Wallabout  with  the  wooden  bridge,  and  the  road  out  beyond  Fulton  street  to 
the  old  toll-gate.  Among  the  latter  were  the  majestic  and  genial  General 
Jeremiah  Johnson,  with  others,  Gabriel  Furman,  Rev.  E.  M.  Johnson,  Alden 
Spooner,  Mr.  Pierrepont,  Mr.  Joralemon,  Samuel  Willoughby,  Jonathan  Trot- 
ter, George  Hall,  Cyrus  P.  Smith,  N.  B.  Morse,  John  Dikeman,  Adrian  Hege- 
man,  William  Udall,  and  old  Mr.  Duflon,  with  his  military  garden. 


SPECIMEN  DA  YS.  1 7 

cross'd  on  the  boats,  often  up  in  the  pilot-houses  where  I  could 
get  a  full  sweep,  absorbing  shows,  accompaniments,  surroundings. 
What  oceanic  currents,  eddies,  underneath — the  great  tides  of 
humanity  also,  with  ever-shifting  movements.  Indeed,  I  have 
always  had  a  passion  for  ferries ;  to  me  they  afford  inimitable, 
streaming,  never-failing,  living  poems.  The  river  and  bay  scenery, 
all  about  New  York  island,  any  time  of  a  fine  day — the  hurrying, 
splashing  sea-tides — the  changing  panorama  of  steamers,  all  sizes, 
often  a  string  of  big  ones  outward  bound  to  distant  ports — the 
myriads  of  white-sail'd  schooners,  sloops,  skiffs,  and  the  marvel- 
lously beautiful  yachts — the  majestic  sound  boats  as  they  rounded 
the  Battery  and  came  along  towards  5,  afternoon,  eastward 
bound — the  prospect  off  towards  Staten  island,  or  down  the  Nar- 
rows, or  the  other  way  up  the  Hudson — what  refreshment  of 
spirit  such  sights  and  experiences  gave  me  years  ago  (and  many 
a  time  since.)  My  old  pilot  friends,  the  Balsirs,  Johnny  Cole, 
Ira  Smith,  William  White,  and  my  young  ferry  friend,  Tom 
Gere — how  well  I  remember  them  all. 

BROADWAY  SIGHTS. 
Besides  Fulton  ferry,  off  and  on  for  years,  I  knew  and  fre- 
quented Broadway — that  noted  avenue  of  New  York's  crowded 
and  mixed  humanity,  and  of  so  many  notables.  Here  I  saw, 
during  those  times,  Andrew  Jackson,  Webster,  Clay,  Seward, 
Martin  Van  Buren,  filibuster  Walker,  Kossuth,  Fitz  Greene  Hal- 
leck,  Bryant,  the  Prince  of  Wales,  Charles  Dickens,  the  first 
Japanese  ambassadors,  and  lots  of  other  celebrities  of  the  time. 
Always  something  novel  or  inspiriting ;  yet  mostly  to  me  the  hur- 
rying and  vast  amplitude  of  those  never-ending  human  currents. 
I  remember  seeing  James  Fenimore  Cooper  in  a  court-room  in 
Chambers  street,  back  of  the  city  hall,  where  he  was  carrying 
on  a  law  case — (I  think  it  was  a  charge  of  libel  he  had  brought 
against  some  one.)  I  also  remember  seeing  Edgar  A.  Poe,  and 
having  a  short  interview  with  him,  (it  must  have  been  in  1845  or 
'6,)  in  his  office,  second  story  of  a  corner  building,  (Duane  or  Pearl 
street.)  He  was  editor  and  owner  or  part  owner  of  "  the  Broadway 
Journal."  The  visit  was  about  a  piece  of  mine  he  had  published. 
Poe  was  very  cordial,  in  a  quiet  way,  appear' d  well  in  person, 
dress,  &c.  I  have  a  distinct  and  pleasing  remembrance  of  his 
looks,  voice,  manner  and  matter;  very  kindly  and  human,  but 
subdued,  perhaps  a  little  jaded.  For  another  of  my  reminis- 
cences, here  on  the  west  side,  just  below  Houston  street,  I  once 
saw  (it  must  have  beep  about  1832,  of  a  sharp,  bright  January  day) 
a  bent,  feeble  but  stout-built  very  old  man,  bearded,  swathed  in  rich 
furs,  with  a  great  ermine  cap  on  his  head,  led  and  assisted,  almost 


!  8  SPECIMEN  DA  YS. 

carried,  down  the  steps  of  his  high  front  stoop  (a  dozen  friends  and 
servants,  emulous,  carefully  holding,  guiding  him)  and  then  lifted 
and  tuck'd  in  a  gorgeous  sleigh,  envelop' d  in  other  furs,  for  a 
ride.  The  sleigh  was  drawn  by  as  fine  a  team  of  horses  as  I  ever 
saw.  (You  needn't  think  all  the  best  animals  are  brought  up 
nowadays ;  never  was  such  horseflesh  as  fifty  years  ago  on  Long 
Island,  or  south,  or  in  New  York  city ;  folks  look'd  for  spirit 
and  mettle  in  a  nag,  not  tame  speed  merely.)  Well,  I,  a  boy  of 
perhaps  thirteen  or  fourteen,  stopp'd  and  gazed  long  at  the  spec- 
tacle of  that  fur-swathed  old  man,  surrounded  by  friends  and  ser- 
vants, and  the  careful  seating  of  him  in  the  sleigh.  I'  remember 
the  spirited,  champing  horses,  the  driver  with  his  whip,  and  a 
fellow-driver  by  his  side,  for  extra  prudence.  The  old  man,  the 
subject  of  so  much  attention,  I  can  almost  see  now.  It  was  John 
Jacob  Astor. 

The  years  1846,  '47,  and  there  along,  see  me  still  in  New  York 
city,  working  as  writer  and  printer,  having  my  usual  good  health, 
and  a  good  time  generally. 

OMNIBUS  JAUNTS  AND  DRIVERS. 
One  phase  of  those  days  must  by  no  means  go  unrecorded — 
namely,  the  Broadway  omnibuses,  with  their  drivers.  The  vehi- 
cles still  (I  write  this  paragraph  in  1881)  give  a  portion  of  the 
character  of  Broadway — the  Fifth  avenue,  Madison  avenue,  and 
Twenty-third  street  lines  yet  running.  But  the  flush  days  of  the 
old  Broadway  stages,  characteristic  and  copious,  are  over.  The 
Yellow-birds,  the  Red-birds,  the  original  Broadway,  the  Fourth 
avenue,  the  Knickerbocker,  and  a  dozen  others  of  twenty  or  thirty 
years  ago,  are  all  gone.  And  the  men  specially  identified  with 
them,  and.  giving  vitality  an.d  meaning  to  them — the  drivers — a 
strange,  natural,  quick-eyed  and  wondrous  race — (not  only  Rab- 
elais and  Cervantes  would  have  gloated  upon  them,  but  Homer 
and  Shakspere  would) — how  well  I  remember  them,  and  must 
here  give  a  word  about  them.  How  many  hours,  forenoons  and 
afternoons — how  many  exhilarating  night-times  I  have  had — 
perhaps  June  or  July,  in  cooler  air — riding  the  whole  length  of 
Broadway,  listening  to  some  yarn,  (and  the  most  vivid  yarns  ever 
spun,  and  the  rarest  mimicry) — or  perhaps  I  declaiming  some 
stormy  passage  from  Julius  Caesar  or  Richard,  (you  could  roar  as 
loudly  as  you  chose  in  that  heavy,  dense,  uninterrupted  street- 
bass.)  Yes,  I  knew  all  the  drivers  then,  Broadway  Jack,  Dress- 
maker, Balky  Bill,  George  Storms,  Old  Elephant,  his  brother 
Young  Elephant  (who  came  afterward,)  Tippy,  Pop  Rice,  Big 
Frank,  Yellow  Joe,  Pete  Callahan,  Patsy  Dee,  and  dozens  more ; 
for  there  were  hundreds.  They  had  immense  qualities,  largely 
animal — eating,  drinking,  women— great  personal  pride,  in  their 


SPECIMEN  DAYS.  19 

way — perhaps  a  few  slouches  here  and  there,  but  I  should  have 
trusted  the  general  run  of  them,  in  their  simple  good-will  and 
honor,  under  all  circumstances.  Not  only  for  comradeship,  and 
sometimes  affection — great  studies  I  found  them  also.  (I  sup- 
pose the  critics  will  laugh  heartily,  but  the  influence  of  those 
Broadway  omnibus  jaunts  and  drivers  and  declamations  and  es- 
capades undoubtedly  enter' d  into  the  gestation  of  "  Leaves  of 
Grass.") 

PLAYS  AND  OPERAS  TOO 

And  certain  actors  and  singers,  had  a  good  deal  to  do  with  the 
business.  All  through  these  years,  off  and  on,  I  frequented  the 
old  Park,  the  Bowery,  Broadway  and  Chatham-square  theatres, 
and  the  Italian  operas  at  Chambers-street,  Astor- place  or  the 
Battery — many  seasons  was  on  the  free  list,  writing  for  papers 
even  as  quite  a  youth.  The  old  Park  theatre— what  names, 
reminiscences,  the  words  bring  back  !  Placide,  Clarke,  Mrs. 
Vernon,  Fisher,  Clara  F.,  Mrs.  Wood,  Mrs.  Seguin,  Ellen  Tree, 
Hackett,  the  younger  Kean,  Macready,  Mrs.  Richardson,  Rice — 
singers,  tragedians,  comedians.  What  perfect  acting !  Henry 
Placide  in  "  Napoleon's  Old  Guard  "  or  "  Grandfather  White- 
head,"— or  "the  Provoked  Husband"  of  Cibber,  with  Fanny 
Kemble  as  Lady  Townley — or  Sheridan  Knowles  in  his  own 
"Virginius" — or  inimitable  Power  in  "Born  to  Good  Luck." 
These,  and  many  more,  the  years  of  youth  and  onward.  Fanny 
Kemble — name  to  conjure  up  great  mimic  scenes  withal — per- 
haps the  greatest.  I  remember  well  her  rendering  of  Bianca  in 
"Fazio,"  and  Marianna  in  "the  Wife."  Nothing  finer  did 
ever  stage  exhibit — the  veterans  of  all  nations  said  so,  and  my 
boyish  heart  and  head  felt  it  in  every  minute  cell.  The  lady  was 
just  matured,  strong,  better  than  merely  beautiful,  born  from  the 
footlights,  had  had  three  years'  practice  in  London  and  through 
the  British  towns,  and  then  she  came  to  give  America  that  young 
maturity  and  roseate  power  in  all  their  noon,  or  rather  forenoon, 
flush.  It  was  my  good  luck  to  see  her  nearly  every  night  she 
play'd  at  the  old  Park — certainly  in  all  her  principal  characters. 

I  heard,  these  years,  well  render' d,  all  the  Italian  and  other 
operas  in  vogue,  "  Sonnambula,"  "  the  Puritans,"  "  Der  Freis- 
chutz,"  "Huguenots,"  "  Fille  d'Regiment,"  "Faust,"  "Etoile 
du  Nord,"  "  Poliuto,"  and  others.  Verdi's  "  Ernani,"  "  Rigo- 
letto,"  and  "  Trovatore,"  with  Donnizetti's  "Lucia"  or  "  Fa- 
vorita  "  or  "Lucrezia,"  and  Auber's  "  Massaniello,"  or  Rossini's 
"  William  Tell  "  and  "  Gazza  Ladra,"  were  among  my  special 
enjoyments.  I  heard  Alboni  every  time  she  sang  in  New  York 
and  vicinity — also  Grisi,  the  tenor  Mario,  and  the  baritone  Ba- 
diali,  the  finest  in  the  world. 


20  SPECIMEN  DA  VS. 

This  musical  passion  follow' d  my  theatrical  one.  As  boy  or 
young  man  I  had  seen,  (reading  them  carefully  the  day  before- 
hand,) quite  all  Shakspere's  acting  dramas,  play'd  wonderfully 
well.  Even  yet  I  cannot  conceive  anything  finer  than  old  Booth 
in  "  Richard  Third,"  or  "Lear,"  (I  don't  know  which  was  best,) 
or  Iago,  (or  Pescara,  or  Sir  Giles  Overreach,  to  go  outside  of 
Shakspere) — or  Tom  Hamblin  in  "Macbeth" — or  old  Clarke, 
either  as  the  ghost  in  "  Hamlet,"  or  as  Prospero  in  "  the  Tem- 
pest," with  Mrs.  Austin  as  Ariel,  and  Peter  Richings  as  Caliban. 
Then  other  dramas,  and  fine  players  in  them,  Forrest  as  Meta- 
mora  or  Damon  or  Brutus — John  R.  Scott  as  Tom  Cringle  or 
Rolla — or  Charlotte  Cushman's  Lady  Gay  Spanker  in  "  Lon- 
don Assurance."  Then  of  some  years  later,  at  Castle  Garden, 
Battery,  I  yet  recall  the  splendid  seasons  of  the  Havana  musi- 
cal troupe  under  Maretzek — the  fine  band,  the  cool  sea- 
breezes,  the  unsurpass'd  vocalism — Steffanone,  Bosio,  Truffi,  Ma- 
rini  in  "Marino  Faliero,"  "  Don  Pasquale,"  or  "  Favorita."  No 
better  playing  or  singing  ever  in  New  York.  It  was  here  too  I 
afterward  heard  Jenny  Lind.  (The  Battery — its  past  associa- 
tions— what  tales  those  old  trees  and  walks  and  sea-walls  could 
tell  !) 

THROUGH  EIGHT  YEARS. 

In  1848,  '49,  I  was  occupied  as  editor  of  the  "  daily  Eagle  " 
newspaper,  in  Brooklyn.  The  latter  year  went  off  on  a  leisurely 
journey  and  working  expedition  (my  brother  Jeff  with  me) 
through  all  the  middle  States,  and  down  the  Ohio  and  Missis- 
sippi rivers.  Lived  awhile  in  New  Orleans,  and  work'd  there  on 
the  editorial  staff  of  "daily  Crescent  "  newspaper.  After  a  time 
plodded  back  northward,  up  the  Mississippi,  and  around  to,  and 
by  way  of  the  great  lakes,  Michigan,  Huron,  and  Erie,  to  Niagara 
falls  and  lower  Canada,  finally  returning  through  central  New 
York  and  down  the  Hudson ;  traveling  altogether  probably 
8000  miles  this  trip,  to  and  fro.  '51,  '53,  occupied  in  house- 
building in  Brooklyn.  (For  a  little  of  the  first  part  of  that  time 
in  printing  a  daily  and  weekly  paper,  "the  Freeman.")  '55,  lost 
my  dear  father  this  year  by  death.  Commenced  putting  "  Leaves 
of  Grass"  to  press  for  good,  at  the  job  printing  office  of  my 
friends,  the  brothers  Rome,  in  Brooklyn,  after  many  MS.  doings 
and  undoings — (I  had  great  trouble  in  leaving  out  the  stock 
"poetical  "  touches,  but  succeeded  at  last.)  I  am  now  (185 6-' 7) 
passing  through  my  37th  year. 

,      SOURCES  OF  CHARACTER— RESULTS— 1860. 
To  sum  up  the  foregoing  from  the  outset  (and,  of  course,  far, 
far  more  unrecorded,)  I  estimate  three  leading  sources  and  forma- 


SPECIMEN  DA  YS.  2 1 

tive  stamps  to  my  own  character,  now  solidified  for  good  or  bad, 
and  its  subsequent  literary  and  other  outgrowth — the  maternal 
nativity-stock  brought  hither  from  far-away  Netherlands,  for  one, 
(doubtless  the  best) — the  subterranean  tenacity  and  central  bony 
structure  (obstinacy,  wilfulness)  which  I  get  from  my  paternal 
English  elements,  for  another — and  the  combination  of  my  Long 
Island  birth-spot,  sea-shores,  childhood's  scenes,  absorptions, 
with  teeming  Brooklyn  and  New  York — with,  I  suppose,  my  experi- 
ences afterward  in  the  secession  outbreak,  for  the  third. 

For,  in  1862,  startled  by  news  that  my  brother  George,  an 
officer  in  the  51st  New  York  volunteers,  had  been  seriously 
wounded  (first  Fredericksburg  battle,  December  13th,)  I  hur- 
riedly went  down  to  the  field  of  war  in  Virginia.  But  I  must  go 
back  a  little. 

OPENING  OF  THE  SECESSION  WAR. 

News  of  the  attack  on  fort  Sumter  and  the  flag  at  Charles- 
ton harbor,  S.  C,  was  receiv'd  in  New  York  city  late  at  night 
(13th  April,  1 86 1,)  and  was  immediately  sent  out  in  extras  of  the 
newspapers.  I  had  been  to  the  opera  in  Fourteenth  street  that 
night,  and  after  the  performance  was  walking  down  Broadway 
toward  twelve  o'clock,  on  my  way  to  Brooklyn,  when  I  heard  in 
the  distance  the  loud  cries  of  the  newsboys,  who  came  presently 
tearing  and  yelling  up  the  street,  rushing  from  side  to  side  even 
more  furiously  than  usual.  I  bought  an  extra  and  cross' d  to  the 
Metropolitan  hotel  (Niblo's)  where  the  great  lamps  were  still 
brightly  blazing,  and,  with  a  crowd  of  others,  who  gather' d  im- 
promptu, read  the  news,  which  was  evidently  authentic.  For  the 
benefit  of  some  who  had  no  papers,  one  of  us  read  the  telegram 
aloud,  while  all  listen' d  silently  and  attentively.  No  remark  was 
made  by  any  of  the  crowd,  which  had  increas'd  to  thirty  or  forty, 
but  all  stood  a  minute  or  two,  I  remember,  before  they  dispers'd. 
I  can  almost  see  them  there  now,  under  the  lamps  at  midnight 
again. 

NATIONAL  UPRISING  AND  VOLUNTEERING. 

I  have  said  somewhere  that  the  three  Presidentiads  preceding 
1 86 1  show'd  how  the  weakness  and  wickedness  of  rulers  are  just 
as  eligible  here  in  America  under  republican,  as  in  Europe  under 
dynastic  influences.  But  what  can  I  say  of  that  prompt  and 
splendid  wrestling  with  secession  slavery,  the  arch-enemy  personi- 
fied, the  instant  he  unmistakably  show'd  his  face?  The  volcanic 
upheaval  of  the  nation,  after  that  firing  on  the  flag  at  Charleston, 
proved  for  certain  something  which  had  been  previously  in  great 
doubt,  and  at  once  substantially  settled  the  question  of  disunion. 
In  my  judgment  it  will  remain  as  the  grandest  and  most  encour- 
aging spectacle  yet  vouchsafed  in  any  age,  old  or  new,  *to  politi- 


2 2  SPECIMEN  DA  YS. 

cal  progress  and  democracy.  It  was  not  for  what  came  to  the 
surface  merely — though  that  was  important — but  what  it  indi- 
cated below,  which  was  of  eternal  importance.  Down  in  the 
abysms  of  New  World  humanity  there  had  form'd  and  harden' d 
a  primal  hard-pan  of  national  Union  will,  determin'd  and  in  the  • 
majority,  refusing  to  be  tamper'd  with  or  argued  against,  con- 
fronting all  emergencies,  and  capable  at  any  time  of  bursting  all 
surface  bonds,  and  breaking  out  like  an  earthquake.  It  is,  in- 
deed, the  best  lesson  of  the  century,  or  of  America,  and  it  is  a 
mighty  privilege  to  have  been  part  of  it.  (Two  great  spectacles, 
immortal  proofs  of  democracy,  unequall'd  in  all  the  history  of 
the  past,  are  furnish' d  by  the  secession  war — one  at  the  begin- 
ning, the  other  at  its  close.  Those  are,  the  general,  voluntary, 
arm'd  upheaval,  and  the  peaceful  and  harmonious  disbanding  of 
the  armies  in  the  summer  of  1865.) 

CONTEMPTUOUS  FEELING. 
Even  after  the  bombardment  of  Sumter,  however,  the  gravity 
of  the  revolt,  and  the  power  and  will  of  the  slave  States  for  a 
strong  and  continued  military  resistance  to  national  authority, 
were  not  at  all  realized  at  the  North,  except  by  a  few.  Nine-tenths 
of  the  people  of  the  free  States  look'd  upon  the  rebellion,  as 
started  in  South  Carolina,  from  a  feeling  one-half  of  contempt, 
and  the  other  half  composed  of  anger  and  incredulity.  It  was 
not  thought  it  would  be  join'd  in  by  Virginia,  North  Carolina, 
or  Georgia.  A  great  and  cautious  national  official  predicted  that 
it  would  blow  over  "in  sixty  days,"  and  folks  generally  believ'd 
the  prediction.  I  remember  talking  about  it  on  a  Fulton  ferry- 
boat with  the  Brooklyn  mayor,  who  said  he  only  "  hopeb!  the 
Southern  fire-eaters  would  commit  some  overt  act  of  resistance,  as 
they  would  then  be  at  once  so  effectually  squelch' d,  we  would 
never  hear  of  secession  again — but  he  was  afraid  they  never  would 
have  the  pluck  to  really  do  anything."  I  remember,  too,  that  a 
couple  of  companies  of  the  Thirteenth  Brooklyn,  who  rendez- 
vou'd  at  the  city  armory,  and  started  thence  as  thirty  days'  men, 
were  all  provided  with  pieces  of  rope,  conspicuously  tied  to  their 
musket-barrels,  with  which  to  bring  back  each  man  a  prisoner  from 
the  audacious  South,  to  be  led  in  a  noose,  on  our  men's  early  and 
triumphant  return ! 

BATTLE  OF  BULL  RUN,  JULY,  1861. 
All  this  sort  of  feeling  was  destin'd  to  be  arrested  and  revers'd 
by  a  terrible  shock — the  battle  of  first  Bull  Run — certainly,  as  we 
now  know  it,  one  of  the  most  singular  fights  on  record.  (All  bat- 
tles, and  their  results,  are  far  more  matters  of  accident  than  is 
generally  thought ;  but  this  was  throughout  a  casualty,  a  chance. 


SPECIMEN  DA  VS.  2^ 

Each  side  supposed  it  had  won,  till  the  last  moment.  One  had, 
in  point  of  fact,  just  the  same  right  to  be  routed  as  the  other. 
By  a  fiction,  or  series  of  fictions,  the  national  forces  at  the  last 
moment  exploded  in  a  panic  and  fled  from  the  field.)  The  de- 
feated troops  commenced  pouring  into  Washington  over  the 
Long  Bridge  at  daylight  on  Monday,  2  2d — day  drizzling  all 
through  with  rain.  The  Saturday  and  Sunday  of  the  battle  (20th, 
21st,)  had  been  parch'd  and  hot  to  an  extreme — the  dust,  the 
grime  and  smoke,  in  layers,  sweated  in,  follow'd  by  other  layers 
again  sweated  in,  absorb'd  by  those  excited  souls — their  clothes 
all  saturated  with  the  clay-powder  filling  the  air — stirr'd  up  every- 
where on  the  dry  roads  and  trodden  fields  by  the  regiments, 
swarming  wagons,  artillery,  &c. — all  the  men  with  this  coating 
of  murk  and  sweat  and  rain,  now  recoiling  back,  pouring  over 
the  Long  Bridge — a  horrible  march  of  twenty  miles,  returning  to 
Washington  baffled,  humiliated,  panic-struck.  Where  are  the 
vaunts,  and  the  proud  boasts  with  which  you  went  forth  ?  Where 
are  your  banners,  and  your  bands  of  music,  and  your  ropes  to 
bring  back  your  prisoners?  Well,  there  isn't  a  band  playing — 
and  there  isn't  a  flag  but  clings  ashamed  and  lank  to  its  staff. 

The  sun  rises,  but  shines  not.  The  men  appear,  at  first 
sparsely  and  shame-faced  enough,  then  thicker,  in  the  streets  of 
Washington — appear  in  Pennsylvania  avenue,  and  on  the  steps 
and  basement  entrances.  They  come  along  in  disorderly  mobs, 
some  in  squads,  stragglers,  companies.  Occasionally,  a  rare  regi- 
ment, in  perfect  order,  with  its  officers  (some  gaps,  dead,  the 
true  braves,)  marching  in  silence,  with  lowering  faces,  stern, 
weary  to  sinking,  all  black  and  dirty,  but  every  man  with  his 
musket,  and  stepping  alive ;  but  these  are  the  exceptions.  Side- 
walks of  Pennsylvania  avenue,  Fourteenth  street,  &c.,  crowded, 
jamm'd  with  citizens,  darkies,  clerks,  everybody,  lookers-on ; 
women  in  the  windows,  curious  expressions  from  faces,  as  those 
swarms  of  dirt-cover'd  return'd  soldiers  there  (will  they  never 
end?)  move  by;  but  nothing  said,  no  comments;  (half  our 
lookers-on  secesh  of  the  most  venomous  kind — they  say  nothing  ; 
but  the  devil  snickers  in  their  faces.)  During  the  forenoon 
Washington  gets  all  over  motley  with  these  defeated  soldiers — 
queer-looking  objects,  strange  eyes  and  faces,  drench'd  (the 
steady  rain  drizzles  on  all  day)  and  fearfully  worn,  hungry,  hag- 
gard, blister'd  in  the  feet.  Good  people  (but  not  over-many  of 
them  either,)  hurry  up  something  for  their  grub.  They  put 
wash-kettles  on  the  fire,  for  soup,  for  coffee.  They  set  tables  on 
the  side-walks — wagon-loads  of  bread  are  purchas'd,  swiftly  cut 
in  stout  chunks.  Here  are  two  aged  ladies,  beautiful,  the  first 
in  the  city  for  culture  and  charm,  they  stand  with  store  of  eating 


24  SPECIMEN  DA  YS. 

and  drink  at  an  improvis'd  table  of  rough  plank,  and  give  food, 
and  have  the  store  replenish' d  from  their  house  every  half-hour  all 
that  day ;  and  there  in  the  rain  they  stand,  active,  silent,  white- 
hair'd,  and  give  food,  though  the  tears  stream  down  their  cheeks, 
almost  without  intermission,  the  whole  time.  Amid  the  deep 
excitement,  crowds  and  motion,  and  desperate  eagerness,  it  seems 
strange  to  see  many,  very  many,  of  the  soldiers  sleeping — in  the 
midst  of  all,  sleeping  sound.  They  drop  down  anywhere,  on 
the  steps  of  houses,  up  close  by  the  basements  or  fences,  on  the 
sidewalk,  aside  on  some  vacant  lot,  and  deeply  sleep.  A  poor 
seventeen  or  eighteen  year  old  boy  lies  there,  on  the  stoop  of  a 
grand  house  ;  he  sleeps  so  calmly,  so  profoundly.  Some  clutch 
their  muskets  firmly  even  in  sleep.  Some  in  squads ;  comrades, 
brothers,  close  together — and  on  them,  as  they  lay,  sulkily  drips 
the  rain. 

As  afternoon  pass'd,  and  evening  came,  the  streets,  the  bar- 
rooms, knots  everywhere,  listeners,  questioners,  terrible  yarns, 
bugaboo,  mask'd  batteries,  our  regiment  all  cut  up,  &c. — stories 
and  story-tellers,  windy,  bragging,  vain  centres  of  street-crowds. 
Resolution,  manliness,  seem  to  have  abandon' d  Washington. 
The  principal  hotel,  Willard's,  is  full  of  shoulder-straps — thick, 
crush'd,  creeping  with  shoulder-straps.  (I  see  them,  and  must 
have  a  word  with  them.  There  you  are,  shoulder-straps  ! — but 
where  are  your  companies  ?  where  are  your  men  ?  Incompetents  1 
never  tell  me  of  chances  of  battle,  of  getting  stray'd,  and  the 
like.  I  think  this  is  your  work,  this  retreat,  after  all.  Sneak, 
blow,  put  on  airs  there  in  Willard's  sumptuous  parlors  and  bar- 
rooms, or  anywhere — no  explanation  shall  save  you.  Bull  Run 
is  your  work ;  had  you  been  half  or  one-tenth  worthy  your  men, 
this  would  never  have  happen'd.) 

Meantime,  in  Washington,  among  the  great  persons  and  their 
entourage,  a  mixture  of  awful  consternation,  uncertainty,  rage, 
shame,  helplessness,  and  stupefying  disappointment.  The  worst 
is  not  only  imminent,  but  already  here.  In  a  few  hours — perhaps 
before  the  next  meal — the  secesh  generals,  with  their  victorious 
hordes,  will  be  upon  us.  The  dream  of  humanity,  the  vaunted 
Union  we  thought  so  strong,  so  impregnable — lo  !  it  seems  al- 
ready smash' d  like  a  china  plate.  One  bitter,  bitter  hour — per- 
haps proud  America  will  never  again  know  such  an  hour.  She 
must  pack  and  fly — no  time  to  spare.  Those  white  palaces — the 
dome-crown' d  capitol  there  on  the  hill,  so  stately  over  the  trees 
— shall  they  be  left — or  destroy'd  first?  For  it  is  certain  that 
the  talk  among  certain  of  the  magnates  and  officers  and  clerks 
and  officials  everywhere,  for  twenty-four  hours  in  and  around 
Washington  after  Bull  Run,  was  loud  and  undisguised  for  yield- 


SPECIMEN  DA  YS. 


25 


ing  out  and  out,  and  substituting  the  southern  rule,  and  Lincoln 
promptly  abdicating  and  departing.  If  the  secesh  officers  and 
forces  had  immediately  follow'd,  and  by  a  bold  Napoleonic 
movement  had  enter'd  Washington  the  first  day,  (or  even  the 
second,)  they  could  have  had  things  their  own  way,  and  a  pow- 
erful faction  north  to  back  them.  One  of  our  returning  colo- 
nels express'd  in  public  that  night,  amid  a  swarm  of  officers  and 
gentlemen  in  a  crowded  room,  the  opinion  that  it  was  useless  to 
fight,  that  the  southerners  had  made  their  title  clear,  and  that 
the  best  course  for  the  national  government  to  pursue  was  to  de- 
sist from  any  further  attempt  at  stopping  them,  and  admit  them 
again  to  the  lead,  on  the  best  terms  they  were  willing  to  grant. 
Not  a  voice  was  rais'd  against  this  judgment,  amid  that  large 
crowd  of  officers  and  gentlemen.  (The  fact  is,  the  hour  was  one 
of  the  three  or  four  of  those  crises  we  had  then  and  afterward, 
during  the  fluctuations  of  four  years,  when  human  eyes  appear' d 
at  least  just  as  likely  to  see  the  last  breath  of  the  Union  as  to  see 
it  continue.) 

THE  STUPOR  PASSES— SOMETHING  ELSE  BEGINS. 

But  the  hour,  the  day,  the  night  pass'd,  and  whatever  returns, 
an  hour,  a  day,  a  night  like  that  can  never  again  return.  The 
President,  recovering  himself,  begins  that  very  night — sternly, 
rapidly  sets  about  the  task  of  reorganizing  his  forces,  and  plac- 
ing himself  in  positions  for  future  and  surer  work.  If  there 
were  nothing  else  of  Abraham  Lincoln  for  history  to  stamp  him 
with,  it  is  enough  to  send  him  with  his  wreath  to  the  memory  of 
all  future  time,  that  he  endured  that  hour,  that  day,  bitterer  than 
gall — indeed  a  crucifixion  day — that  it  did  not  conquer  him — 
that  he  unflinchingly  stemm'd  it,  and  resolv'd  to  lift  himself  and 
the  Union  out  of  it. 

Then  the  great  New  York  papers  at  once  appear' d,  (commenc- 
ing that  evening,  and  following  it  up  the  next  morning,  and  in- 
cessantly through  many  days  afterwards,)  with  leaders  that  rang 
out  over  the  land  with  the  loudest,  most  reverberating  ring  of 
clearest  bugles,  full  of  encouragement,  hope,  inspiration,  unfalter- 
ing defiance.  Those  magnificent  editorials  !  they  never  flagg'd 
for  a  fortnight.  The  "  Herald  "  commenced  them — I  remember 
the  articles  well.  The  "Tribune"  was  equally  cogent  and  in- 
spiriting— and  the  "  Times,"  "  Evening  Post,"  and  other  prin- 
cipal papers,  were  not  a  whit  behind.  They  came  in  good  time, 
for  they  were  needed.  For  in  the  humiliation  of  Bull  Run,  the 
popular  feeling  north,  from  its  extreme  of  superciliousness,  re- 
coil'd  to  the  depth  of  gloom  and  apprehension. 

(Of  all  the  days  of  the  war,  there  are  two  especially  I  can 


2g  SPECIMEN  DA  YS. 

never  forget.  Those  were  the  day  following  the  news,  in  New  York 
and  Brooklyn,  of  that  first  Bull  Run  defeat,  and  the  day  of  Abra- 
ham Lincoln's  death.  I  was  home  in  Brooklyn  on  both  occa- 
sions. The  day  of  the  murder  we  heard  the  news  very  early  in 
the  morning.  Mother  prepared  breakfast — and  other  meals  after- 
ward— as  usual ;  but  not  a  mouthful  was  eaten  all  day  by  either 
of  us.  We  each  drank  half  a  cup  of  coffee ;  that  was  all.  Little 
was  said.  We  got  every  newspaper  morning  and  evening,  and 
the  frequent  extras  of  that  period,  and  pass'd  them  silently  to 

each  other.) 

DOWN  AT  THE  FRONT. 

Falmouth,  Va.,  opposite  Frederickslnci'gh,  December  21, 1862. — 
Begin  my  visits  among  the  camp  hospitals  in  the  army  of  the 
Potomac.  Spend  a  good  part  of  the  day  in  a  large  brick  man- 
sion on  the  banks  of  the  Rappahannock,  used  as  a  hospital  since 
the  battle — seems  to  have  receiv'd  only  the  worst  cases.  Out 
doors,  at  the  foot  of  a  tree,  within  ten  yards  of  the  front  of  the 
house,  I  notice  a  heap  of  amputated  feet,  legs,  arms,  hands,  &c, 
a  full  load  for  a  one-horse  cart.  Several  dead  bodies  lie  near, 
each  cover' d  with  its  brown  woolen  blanket.  In  the  door-yard, 
towards  the  river,  are  fresh  graves,  mostly  of  officers,  their  names 
on  pieces  of  barrel-staves  or  broken  boards,  stuck  in  the  dirt. 
(Most  of  these  bodies  were  subsequently  taken  up  and  trans- 
ported north  to  their  friends.)  The  large  mansion  is  quite 
crowded  upstairs  and  down,  everything  impromptu,  no  system, 
all  bad  enough,  but  I  have  no  doubt  the  best  that  can  be  done ; 
all  the  wounds  pretty  bad,  some  frightful,  the  men  in  their  old 
clothes,  unclean  and  bloody.  Some  of  the  wounded  are  rebel 
soldiers  and  officers,  prisoners.  One,  a  Mississippian,  a  captain, 
hit  badly  in  leg,  I  talk'd  with  some  time ;  he  ask'd  me  for 
papers,  which  I  gave  him.  (I  saw  him  three  months  afterward 
in  Washington,  with  his  leg  amputated,  doing  well.)  I  went 
through  the  rooms,  downstairs  and  up.  Some  of  the  men  were 
dying.  I  had  nothing  to  give  at  that  visit,  but  wrote  a  few  let- 
ters to  folks  home,  mothers,  &c.  Also  talk'd  to  three  or  four, 
who  seem'd  most  susceptible  to  it,  and  needing  it. 

AFTER  FIRST  FREDERICKSBURG. 
December  23  to  31. — The  results  of  the  late  battle  are  exhib- 
ited everywhere  about  here  in  thousands  of  cases,  (hundreds  die 
every  day,)  in  the  camp,  brigade,  and  division  hospitals.  These 
are  merely  tents,  and  sometimes  very  poor  ones,  the  wounded 
lying  on  the  ground,  lucky  if  their  blankets  are  spread  on  layers 
of  pine  or  hemlock  twigs,  or  small  leaves.  No  cots  ;  seldom  even 
a  mattress.     It  is  pretty  cold.     The  ground  is  frozen  hard,  and 


SPECIMEN  DA  YS. 


27 


there  is  occasional  snow.  I  go  around  from  one  case  to  another. 
I  do  not  see  that  I  do  much  good  to  these  wounded  and  dying; 
but  I  cannot  leave  them.  Once  in  awhile  some  youngster  holds 
on  to  me  convulsively,  and  I  do  what  I  can  for  him  ;  at  any  rate, 
stop  with  him  and  sit  near  him  for  hours,  if  he  wishes  it. 

Besides  the  hospitals,  I  also  go  occasionally  on  long  tours 
through  the  camps,  talking  with  the  men,  &c.  Sometimes  at 
night  among  the  groups  around  the  fires,  in  their  shebang  enclo- 
sures of  bushes.  These  are  curious  shows,  full  of  characters  and 
groups.  I  soon  get  acquainted  anywhere  in  camp,  with  officers 
or  men,  and  am  always  well  used.  Sometimes  I  go  down  on 
picket  with  the  regiments  I  know  best.  As  to  rations,  the  army 
here  at  present  seems  to  be  tolerably  well  supplied,  and  the  men 
have  enough,  such  as  it  is,  mainly  salt  pork  and  hard  tack.  Most 
of  the  regiments  lodge  in  the  flimsy  little  shelter-tents.  A  few 
have  built  themselves  huts  of  logs  and  mud,  with  fire-places. 

BACK  TO  WASHINGTON. 

January,  '6j. — Left  camp  at  Falmouth,  with  some  wounded,  a 
few  days  since,  and  came  here  by  A  quia  creek  railroad,  and  so  on 
government  steamer  up  the  Potomac.  Many  wounded  were  with 
us  on  the  cars  and  boat.  The  cars  were  just  common  platform 
ones.  The  railroad  journey  of  ten  or  twelve  miles  was  made 
mostly  before  sunrise.  The  soldiers  guarding  the  road  came  out 
from  their  tents  or  shebangs  of  bushes  with  rumpled  hair  and 
half-awake  look.  Those  on  duty  were  walking  their  posts,  some 
on  banks  over  us,  others  down  far  below  the  level  of  the  track. 
I  saw  large  cavalry  camps  off  the  road.  At  A  quia  creek  landing 
were  numbers  of  wounded  going  north.  While  I  waited  some 
three  hours,  I  went  around  among  them.  Several  wanted  word  sent 
home  to  parents,  brothers,  wives,  &c,  which  I  did  for  them,  (by 
mail  the  next  day  from  Washington.)  On  the  boat  I  had  my 
hands  full.     One  poor  fellow  died  going  up. 

I  am  now  remaining  in  and  around  Washington,  daily  visiting 
the  hospitals.  Am  much  in  Patent-office,  Eighth  street,  H  street, 
Armory-square,  and  others.  Am  now  able  to  do  a  little  good,  having 
money,  (as  almoner  of  others  home,)  and  getting  experience. 
To-day,  Sunday  afternoon  and  till  nine  in  the  evening,  visited 
Campbell  hospital;  attended  specially  to  one  case  in  ward  1, 
very  sick  with  pleurisy  and  typhoid  fever,  young  man,  farmer's 
son,  D.  F.  Russell,  company  E,  60th  New  York,  downhearted 
and  feeble ;  a  long  time  before  he  would  take  any  interest ;  wrote 
a  letter  home  to  his  mother,  in  Malone,  Franklin  county,  N.  Y., 
at  his  request ;  gave  him  some  fruit  and  one  or  two  other  gifts; 
envelop'd  and  directed  his  letter,  &c.  Then  went  thoroughly 
through  ward  6,  observ'd  every  case  in  the  ward,  without,  I  think, 


2  g  SEE  CI  MEN  DA  VS. 

missing  one ;  gave  perhaps  from  twenty  to  thirty  persons,  each 
one  some  little  gift,  such  as  oranges,  apples,  sweet  crackers,  figs, 
&c. 

Thursday,  Jan.  21. — Devoted  the  main  part  of  the  day  to 
Armory-square  hospital ;  went  pretty  thoroughly  through  wards 
F,  G,  H,  and  I ;  some  fifty  cases  in  each  ward.  In  ward  F  sup- 
plied the  men  throughout  with  writing  paper  and  stamp'd  en- 
velope each ;  distributed  in  small  portions,  to  proper  subjects,  a 
large  jar  of  first-rate  preserv'd  berries,  which  had  been  donated 
to  me  by  a  lady — her  own  cooking.  Found*  several  cases  I 
thought  good  subjects  for  small  sums  of  money,  which  I  fur- 
nish'd.  (The  wounded  men  often  come  up  broke,  and  it  helps 
their  spirits  to  have  even  the  small  sum  I  give  them.)  My  paper 
and  envelopes  all  gone,  but  distributed  a  good  lot  of  amusing 
reading  matter;  also,  as  I  thought  judicious,  tobacco,  oranges, 
apples,  &c.  Interesting  cases  in  ward  I;  Charles  Miller,  bed 
19,  company  D,  53d  Pennsylvania,  is  only  sixteen  years  of  age, 
very  bright,  courageous  boy,  left  leg  amputated  below  the  knee ; 
next  bed  to  him,  another  young  lad  very  sick ;  gave  each  appro- 
priate gifts.  In  the  bed  above,  also,  amputation  of  the  left  leg ; 
gave  him  a  little  jar  of  raspberries;  bed  1,  this  ward,  gave  a 
small  sum  ;  also  to  a  soldier  on  crutches,  sitting  on  his  bed  near.... 
(I  am  more  and  more  surprised  at  the  very  great  proportion  of 
youngsters  from  fifteen  to  twenty-one  in  the  army.  I  afterwards 
found  a  still  greater  proportion  among  the  southerners.) 

Evening,  same  day,  went  to  see  D.  F.  R.,  before  alluded  to; 
found  him  remarkably  changed  for  the  better ;  up  and  dress'd — 
quite  a  triumph ;  he  afterwards  got  well,  and  went  back  to  his 
regiment.  Distributed  in  the  wards  a  quantity  of  note-paper, 
and  forty  or  fifty  stamp'd  envelopes,  of  which  I  had  recruited 
my  stock,  and  the  men  were  much  in  need. 

FIFTY  HOURS  LEFT  WOUNDED  ON  THE  FIELD. 

Here  is  a  case  of  a  soldier  I  found  among  the  crowded  cots  in 
the  Patent-office.  He  likes  to  have  some  one  to  talk  to,  and  we 
will  listen  to  him.  He  got  badly  hit  in  his  leg  and  side  at  Fred- 
ericksburgh  that  eventful  Saturday,  13th  of  December.  He  lay 
the  succeeding  two  days  and  nights  helpless  on  the  field,  between 
the  city  and  those  grim  terraces  of  batteries ;  his  company  and 
regiment  had  been  compell'd  to  leave  him  to  his  fate.  To  make 
matters  worse,  it  happen'd  he  lay  with  his  head  slightly  down 
hill,  and  could  not  help  himself.  At  the  end  of  some  fifty  hours 
he  was  brought  off,  with  other  wounded,  under  a  flag  of  truce. 
I  ask  him  how  the  rebels  treated  him  as  he  lay  during  those  two 
days  and  nights  within  reach  of  them — whether  they  came  to 


SPECIMEN  DA  YS. 


29 


him — whether  they  abused  him  ?  He  answers  that  several  of  the 
rebels,  soldiers  and  others,  came  to  him  at  one  time  and  another. 
A  couple  of  them,  who  were  together,  spoke  roughly  and  sarcas- 
tically, but  nothing  worse.  One  middle-aged  man,  however, 
who  seem'd  to  be  moving  around  the  field,  among  the  dead  and 
wounded,  for  benevolent  purposes,  came  to  him  in  a  way  he 
will  never  forget;  treated  our  soldier  kindly,  bound  up  his 
wounds,  cheer'd  him,  gave  him  a  couple  of  biscuits  and  a  drink 
of  whiskey  and  water;  asked  him  if  he  could  eat  some  beef. 
This  good  secesh,  however,  did  not  change  our  soldier's  position, 
for  it  might  have  caused  the  blood  to  burst  from  the  wounds, 
clotted  and  stagnated.  Our  soldier  is  from  Pennsylvania ;  has 
had  a  pretty  severe  time ;  the  wounds  proved  to  be  bad  ones. 
But  he  retains  a  good  heart,  and  is  at  present  on  the  gain.  (It 
is  not  uncommon  for  the  men  to  remain  on  the  field  this  way, 
one,  two,  or  even  four  or  five  days.) 

HOSPITAL  SCENES  AND  PERSONS. 

Letter  Writing. — When  eligible,  I  encourage  the  men  to  write, 
and  myself,  when  called  upon,  write  all  sorts  of  letters  for  them, 
(including  love  letters,  very  tender  ones.)  Almost  as  I  reel  off 
these  memoranda,  I  write  for  a  new  patient  to  his  wife.  M.  de  F., 
of  the  17th  Connecticut,  company  H,  has  just  come  up  (Febru- 
ary 17th)  from  Windmill  point,  and  is  received  in  ward  H, 
Armory-square.  He  is  an  intelligent  looking  man,  has  a  foreign 
accent,  black-eyed  and  hair'd,  a  Hebraic  appearance.  'Wants 
a  telegraphic  message  sent  to  his  wife,  New  Canaan,  Conn.  I 
agree  to  send  the  message — but  to  make  things  sure  I  also  sit 
down  and  write  the  wife  a  letter,  and  despatch  it  to  the  post- 
office  immediately,  as  he  fears  she  will  come  on,  and  he  does  not 
wish  her  to,  as  he  will  surely  get  well. 

Saturday ',  January joth. — Afternoon,  visited  Campbell  hospital. 
Scene  of  cleaning  up  the  ward,  and  giving  the  men  all  clean 
clothes — through  the  ward  (6)  the  patients  dressing  or  being 
dress'd — the  naked  upper  half  of  the  bodies — the  good-humor 
and  fun — the  shirts,  drawers,  sheets  of  beds,  &c,  and  the  general 
fixing  up  for  Sunday.     Gave  J.  L.  50  cents. 

Wednesday,  February  4th. — Visited  Armory-square  hospital, 
went  pretty  thoroughly  through  wards  E  and  D.  Supplied  paper 
and  envelopes  to  all  who  wish'd — as  usual,  found  plenty  of  men 
who  needed  those  articles.  Wrote  letters.  Saw  and  talk'd  with 
two  or  three  members  of  the  Brooklyn  14th  regt.  A  poor  fel- 
low in  ward  D,  with  a  fearful  wound  in  a  fearful  condition,  was 
having  some  loose  splinters  of  bone  taken  from  the  neighborhood 
of  the  wound.     The  operation  was  long,  and  one  of  great  pain — 


30  SPECIMEN  DA  VS. 

yet,  after  it  was  well  commenced,  the  soldier  bore  it  in  silence. 
He  sat  up,  propp'd — was  much  wasted — had  lain  a  long  time 
quiet  in  one  position  (not  for  days  only  but  weeks,)  a  bloodless, 
brown-skinn'd  face,  with  eyes  full  of  determination — belong'd  to 
a  New  York  regiment.  There  was  an  unusual  cluster  of  surgeons, 
medical  cadets,  nurses,  &c,  around  his  bed — I  thought  the  whole 
thing  was  done  with  tenderness,  and  done  well.  In  one  case,  the 
wife  sat  by  the  side  of  her  husband,  his  sickness  typhoid  fever, 
pretty  bad.  In  another,  by  the  side  of  her  son,  a  mother — she 
told  me  she  had  seven  children,  and  this  was  the  youngest.  (A 
fine,  kind,  healthy,  gentle  mother,  good-looking,  not  very  old, 
with  a  cap  on  her  head,  and  dress' d  like  home — what  a  charm  it 
gave  to  the  whole  ward.)  I  liked  the  woman  nurse  in  ward  E — 
I  noticed  how  she  sat  a  long  time  by  a  poor  fellow  who  just  had, 
that  morning,  in  addition  to  his  other  sickness,  bad  hemorrhage 
— she  gently  assisted  him,  reliev'd  him  of  the  blood,  holding  a 
cloth  to  his  mouth,  as  he  coughed  it  up — he  was  so  weak  he  could 
only  just  turn  his  head  over  on  the  pillow. 

One  young  New  York  man,  with  a  bright,  handsome  face,  had 
been  lying  several  months  from  a  most  disagreeable  wound,  re- 
ceiv'd  at  Bull  Run.  A  bullet  had  shot  him  right  through  the 
bladder,  hitting  him  front,  low  in  the  belly,  and  coming  out 
back.  He  had  suffer'd  much — the  water  came  out  of  the  wound, 
by  slow  but  steady  quantities,  for  many  weeks — so  that  he  lay 
almost  constantly  in  a  sort  of  puddle — and  there  were  other  dis- 
agreeable circumstances.  He  was  of  good  heart,  however.  At 
present  comparatively  comfortable,  had  a  bad  throat,  was  de- 
lighted with  a  stick  of  horehound  candy  I  gave  him,  with  one  or 
two  other  trifles. 

PATENT-OFFICE  HOSPITAL. 

February  23. — I  must  not  let  the  great  hospital  at  the  Patent- 
office  pass  away  without  some  mention.  A  few  weeks  ago  the 
vast  area  of  the  second  story  of  that  noblest  of  Washington 
buildings  was  crowded  close  with  rows  of  sick,  badly  wounded 
and  dying  soldiers.  They  were  placed  in  three  very  large  apart- 
ments. I  went  there  many  times.  It  was  a  strange,  solemn,  and, 
with  all  its  features  of  suffering  and  death,  a  sort  of  fascinating 
sight.  I  go  sometimes  at  night  to  soothe  and  relieve  par- 
ticular cases.  Two  of  the  immense  apartments  are  fill'd  with 
high  and  ponderous  glass  cases,  crowded  with  models  in  minia- 
ture of  every  kind  of  utensil,  machine  or  invention,  it  ever  en- 
ter'd  into  the  mind  of  man  to  conceive ;  and  with  curiosities 
and  foreign  presents.  Between  these  cases  are  lateral  openings, 
perhaps  eight  feet  wide  and  quite  deep,  and  in  these  were  placed 
the  sick,  besides  a  great  long  double  row  of  them  up  and  down 


SPECIMEN  DA  VS. 


31 


through  the  middle  of  the  hall.  Many  of  them  were  very  bad 
cases,  wounds  and  amputations.  Then  there  was  a  gallery  run- 
ning above  the  hall  in  which  there  were  beds  also.  It  was,  in- 
deed, a  curious  scene,  especially  at  night  when  lit  up.  The  glass 
cases,  the  beds,  the  forms  lying  there,  the  gallery  above,  and  the 
marble  pavement  under  foot — the  suffering,  and  the  fortitude  to 
bear  it  in  various  degrees — occasionally,  from  some,  the  groan 
that  could  not  be  repress'd — sometimes  a  poor  fellow  dying,  with 
emaciated  face  and  glassy  eye,  the  nurse  by  his  side,  the  doctor 
also  there,  but  no  friend,  no  relative — such  were  the  sights  but 
lately  in  the  Patent- office.  (The  wourrded  have  since  been  re- 
moved from  there,  and  it  is  now  vacant  again.) 

THE  WHITE  HOUSE  BY  MOONLIGHT. 
February  24th. — A  spell  of  fine  soft  weather.  I  wander  about 
a  good  deal,  sometimes  at  night  under  the  moon.  To-night  took 
a  long  look  at  the  President's  house.  The  white  portico — the 
palace-like,  tall,  round  columns,  spotless  as  snow — the  walls  also 
— the  tender  and  soft  moonlight,  flooding  the  pale  marble,  and 
making  peculiar  faint  languishing  shades,  not  shadows — every- 
where a  soft  transparent  hazy,  thin,  blue  moon-lace,  hanging  in 
the  air — the  brilliant  and  extra-plentiful  clusters  of  gas,  on  and 
around  the  facade,  columns,  portico,  &c. — everything  so  white, 
so  marbly  pure  and  dazzling,  yet  soft — the  White  House  of  future 
poems,  and  of  dreams  and  dramas,  there  in  the  soft  and  copious 
moon — the  gorgeous  front,  in  the  trees,  under  the  lustrous  flood- 
ing moon,  full  of  reahty,  full  of  illusion — the  forms  of  the  trees, 
leafless,  silent,  in  trunk  and  myriad-angles  of  branches,  under 
the  stars  and  sky — the  White  House  of  the  land,  and  of  beauty 
and  night — sentries  at  the  gates,  and  by  the  portico,  silent,  pac- 
ing there  in  blue  overcoats — stopping  you  not  at  all,  but  eyeing 
you  with  sharp  eyes,  whichever  way  you  move. 

AN  ARMY  HOSPITAL  WARD. 
Let  me  specialize  a  visit  I  made  to  the  collection  of  barrack- 
like one-story  edifices,  Campbell  hospital,  out  on  the  flats,  at  the 
end  of  the  then  horse  railway  route,  on  Seventh  street.  There 
is  a  long  building  appropriated  to  each  ward.  Let  us  go  into 
ward  6.  It  contains  to-day,  I  should  judge,  eighty  or  a  hundred 
patients,  half  sick,  half  wounded.  The  edifice  is  nothing  but 
boards,  well  whitewash' d  inside,  and  the  usual  slender-framed 
iron  bedsteads,  narrow  and  plain.  You  walk  down  the  central 
passage,  with  a  row  on  either  side,  their  feet  towards  you,  and 
their  heads  to  the  wall.  There  are  fires  in  large  stoves,  and  the 
prevailing  white  of  the  walls  is  reliev'd  by  some  ornaments,  stars, 
circles,  &c,  made  of  evergreens.     The  view  of  the  whole  edifice 


32  SPECIMEN  DA  VS. 

and  occupants  can  be  taken  at  once,  for  there  is  no  partition. 
You  may  hear  groans  or  other  sounds  of  unendurable  suffering 
from  two  or  three  of  the  cots,  but  in  the  main  there  is  quiets— 
almost  a  painful  absence  of  demonstration ;  but  the  pallid  face, 
the  dull'd  eye,  and  the  moisture  on  the  lip,  are  demonstration 
enough.  Most  of  these  sick  or  hurt  are  evidently  young  fellows 
from  the  country,  farmers'  sons,  and  such  like.  Look  at  the  fine 
large  frames,  the  bright  and  broad  countenances,  and  the  many 
yet  lingering  proofs  of  strong  constitution  and  physique.  Look 
at  the  patient  and  mute  manner  of  our  American  wounded  as 
they  lie  in  such  a  sad  collection ;  representatives  from  all  New 
England,  and  from  New  York,  and  New  Jersey,  and  Pennsyl- 
vania— indeed  from  all  the  States  and  all  the  cities — largely 
from  the  west.  Most  of  them  are  entirely  without  friends- or  ac- 
quaintances here — no  familiar  face,  and  hardly  a  word  of  judi- 
cious sympathy  or  cheer,  through  their  sometimes  long  and  te- 
dious sickness,  or  the  pangs  of  aggravated  wounds. 

A  CONNECTICUT  CASE. 
This  young  man  in  bed  25  is  H.  D.  B.,  of  the  27th  Connecti- 
cut, company  B.  His  folks  live  at  Northford,  near  New  Haven. 
Though  not  more  than  twenty-one,  or  thereabouts,  he  has  knock'd 
much  around  the  world,  on  sea  and  land,  and  has  seen  some  fight- 
ing on  both.  When  I  first  saw  him  he  was  very  sick,  with  no 
appetite.  He  declined  offers  of  money — said  he  did  not  need 
anything.  As  I  was  quite  anxious  to  do  something,  he  confess'd 
that  he  had  a  hankering  for  a  good  home-made  rice  pudding — 
thought  he  could  relish  it  better  than  anything.  At  this  time  his 
stomach  was  very  weak.  (The  doctor,  whom  I  consulted,  said 
nourishment  would  do  him  more  good  than  anything  ;  but  things 
in  the  hospital,  though  better  than  usual,  revolted  him.)  I  soon 
procured  B.  his  rice-pudding.  A  Washington  lady,  (Mrs.  O'C), 
hearing  his  wish,  made  the  pudding  herself,  and  I  took  it  up  to 
him  the  next  day.  He  subsequently  told  me  he  lived  upon  it  for 
three  or  four  days.  This  B.  is  a  good  sample  of  the  American 
eastern  young  man — the  typical  Yankee.  I  took  a  fancy  to  him, 
and  gave  him  a  nice  pipe,  for  a  keepsake.  He  receiv'd  after- 
wards a  box  of  things  from  home,  and  nothing  would  do  but  I 
must  take  dinner  with  him,  which  I  did,  and  a  very  good  one  it 
was. 

TWO  BROOKLYN  BOYS. 

Here  in  this  same  ward  are  two  young  men  from  Brooklyn, 
members  of  the  51st  New  York.  I  had  known  both  the  two  as 
young  lads  at  home,  so  they  seem  near  to  me.  One  of  them,  J. 
L.,  lies  there  with  an  amputated  arm,  the  stump  healing  pretty 


SPECIMEN  DA  YS.  ~  ~ 

well.  (I  saw  him  lying  on  the  ground  at  Fredericksburgh  last 
December,  all  bloody,  just  after  the  arm  was  taken  off.  He  was 
very  phlegmatic  about  it,  munching  away  at  a  cracker  in  the  re- 
maining hand— made  no  fuss.)  He  will  recover,  and  thinks  and 
talks  yet  of  meeting  the  Johnny  Rebs. 

A  SECESH  BRAVE. 

The  grand  soldiers  are  not  comprised  in  those  of  one  side,  any 
more  than  the  other.  Here  is  a  sample  of  an  unknown  south- 
erner, a  lad  of  seventeen.  At  the  War  department,  a  few  days 
ago,  I  witness'd  a  presentation  of  captured  flags  to  the  Secretary. 
Among  others  a  soldier  named  Gant,  of  the  104th  Ohio  volun- 
teers, presented  a  rebel  battle-flag,  which  one  of  the  officers  stated 
to  me  was  borne  to  the  mouth  of  our  cannon  and  planted  there 
by  a  boy  but  seventeen  years  of  age,  who  actually  endeavor'd  to 
stop  the  muzzle  of  the  gun  with  fence-rails.  He  was  kill'd  in  the 
effort,  and  the  flag-staff  was  sever' d  by  a  shot  from  one  of  our 
men. 

THE  WOUNDED  FROM  CHANCELLORSVILLE. 

May,  '6j—  As  I  write  this,  the  wounded  have  begun  to  arrive 
from  Hooker's  command  from  bloody  Chancellorsville.     I  was 
down  among  the  first  arrivals.     The  men  in  charge  told  me  the 
bad  cases  were  yet  to  come.     If  that  is  so  I  pity  them,  for  these 
are  bad  enough.     You  ought  to  see  the  scene  of  the  wounded  ar- 
riving at  the  landing  here  at  the  foot  of  Sixth  street,  at  night. 
Two  boat  loads  came  about  half-past  seven  last  night.     A  little 
after  eight  it  rain'd  a  long  and  violent  shower.     The  pale,  help- 
less soldiers  had  been  debark'd,  and  lay  around  on  the  wharf  and 
neighborhood  anywhere.     The  rain  was,  probably,  grateful  to 
them ;  at  any  rate  they  were  exposed  to  it.     The  few  torches  light 
up  the  spectacle.     All  around— on  the  wharf,  on  the  ground,  out 
on  side  places— the  men  are  lying  on  blankets,  old  quilts,  &c, 
with  bloody  rags  bound  round  heads,  arms,  and  legs.     The  at- 
tendants are   few,  and  at  night  few  outsiders  also— only  a  few 
hard-work' d  transportation  men  and  drivers.     (The  wounded  are 
getting  to  be  common,  and  people  grow  callous.)     The  men, 
whatever  their  condition,  lie  there,  and  patiently  wait  till  their 
turn  comes  to  be  taken  up.     Near  by,  the  ambulances  are  now 
arriving  in  clusters,  and  one   after  another  is  call'd  to  back  up 
and  take  its  load.     Extreme  cases  are  sent  off  on  stretchers.    The 
men  generally  make  little  or  no  ado,  whatever  their  sufferings. 
A  few  groans  that  cannot  be  suppress'd,  and  occasionally  a  scream 
of  pam  as  they  lift  a  man  into  the  ambulance.     To-day,  as  I 
write,  hundreds  more  are  expected,  and  to-morrow  and  the  next 


34  SPECIMEN  DA  YS. 

day  more,  and  so  on  for  many  days.     Quite  often  they  arrive  at 
the  rate  of  ioooaday.  , 

A  NIGHT  BATTLE,  OVER  A  WEEK  SINCE. 

May  12. — There  was  part  of  the  late  battle  at  Chancellors- 
ville,  (second  Fredericksburgh,)  a  little  over  a  week  ago,  Satur- 
day, Saturday  night  and  Sunday,  under  Gen.  Joe  Hooker,  I 
would  like  to  give  just  a  glimpse  of — (a  moment's  look  in  a  ter- 
rible storm  at  sea — of  which  a  few  suggestions  are  enough,  and 
full  details  impossible.)  The  fighting  had  been  very  hot  during 
the  day,  and  after  an  intermission  the  latter  part,  was  resumed  at 
night,  and  kept  up  with  furious  energy  till  3  o'clock  in  the  morn- 
ing. That  afternoon  (Saturday)  an  attack  sudden  and  strong  by 
Stonewall  Jackson  had  gain'd  a  great  advantage  to  the  southern 
army,  and  broken  our  lines,  entering  us  like  a  wedge,  and  leaving 
things  in  that  position  at  dark.  But  Hooker  at  11  at  night  made 
a  desperate  push,  drove  the  secesh  forces  back,  restored  his  origi- 
nal lines,  and  resumed  his  plans.  This  night  scrimmage  was  very 
exciting,  and  afforded  countless  strange  and  fearful  pictures.  The 
fighting  had  been  general  both  at  Chancellorsville  and  northeast 
at  Fredericksburgh.  (We  hear  of  some  poor  fighting,  episodes, 
skedaddling  on  our  part.  I  think  not  of  it.  I  think  of  the  fierce 
bravery,  the  general  rule.)  One  corps,  the  6th,  Sedgewick's, 
fights  four  dashing  and  bloody  battles  in  thirty-six  hours,  retreat- 
ing in  great  jeopardy,  losing  largely  but  maintaining  itself,  fight- 
ing with  the  sternest  desperation  under  all  circumstances,  getting 
over  the  Rappahannock  only  by  the  skin  of  its  teeth,  yet  getting 
over.  It  lost  many,  many  brave  men,  yet  it  took  vengeance, 
ample  vengeance. 

But  it  was  the  tug  of  Saturday  evening,  and  through  the  night 
and  Sunday  morning,  I  wanted  to  make  a  special  note  of.  It 
was  largely  in  the  woods,  and  quite  a  general  engagement.  The 
night  was  very  pleasant,  at  times  the  moon  shining  out  full  and 
clear,  all  Nature  so  calm  in  itself,  the  early  summer  grass  so  rich, 
and  foliage  of  the  trees — yet  there  the  battle  raging,  and  many 
good  fellows  lying  helpless,  with  new  accessions  to  them,  and 
every  minute  amid  the  rattle  of  muskets  and  crash  of  cannon, 
(for  there  was  an  artillery  contest  too,)  the  red  life-blood  oozing 
out  from  heads  or  trunks  or  limbs  upon  that  green  and  dew-cool 
grass.  Patches  of  the  woods  take  fire,  and  several  of  the  wounded, 
unable  to  move,  are  consumed — quite  large  spaces  are  swept  over, 
burning  the  dead  also — some  of  the  men  have  their  hair  and 
beards  singed — some,  burns  on  their  faces  and  hands — others 
holes  burnt  in  their  clothing.  The  flashes  of  fire  from  the  can- 
non, the  quick  flaring  flames  and  smoke,  and  the  immense  roar^ 


SPECIMEN  DA  YS. 


35 


the  musketry  so  general,  the  light  nearly  bright  enough  for  each 
side  to  see  the  other — the  crashing,  tramping  of  men — the 
yelling^ — close  quarters — we  hear  the  secesh  yells — our  men  cheer 
loudly  back,  especially  if  Hooker  is  in  sight — hand  to  hand  con- 
flicts, each  side  stands  up  to  it,  brave,  determin'd  as  demons,  they 
often  charge  upon  us — a  thousand  deeds  are  done  worth  to  write 
newer  greater  poems  on — and  still  the  woods  on  fire — still  many 
are  not  only  scorch'd — too  many,  unable  to  move,  are  burn'd  to 
death. 

Then  the  camps  of  the  wounded — O  heavens,  what  scene  is 
this  ? — is  this  indeed  humanity — these  butchers'  shambles  ?    There 
are  several  of  them.     There  they  lie,  in  the  largest,  in  an  open 
space  in  the  woods,  from  200  to  300  poor  fellows — the  groans 
and  screams — the  odor  of  blood,  mixed  with  the  fresh  scent  of 
the  night,  the  grass,  the  trees — that  slaughter-house  !     O  well  is 
it  their  mothers,  their  sisters  cannot  see  them — cannot  conceive, 
and  never  conceiv'd,  these  things.     One  man  is  shot  by  a  shell, 
both  in  the  arm  and  leg — both  are  amputated — there  lie  the  re- 
jected members.     Some  have  their  legs  blown  off — some  bullets 
through  the  breast — some  indescribably  horrid  wounds  in  the 
face  or  head,  all  mutilated,  sickening,  torn,  gouged  out — some 
in  the  abdomen — some  mere  boys — many  rebels,  badly  hurt — 
they  take  their  regular  turns  with  the  rest,  just  the  same  as  any — 
the  surgeons  use  them  just  the  same.     Such  is  the  camp  of  the 
wounded — such  a  fragment,  a  reflection  afar  off  of  the  bloody 
scene — while  over  all  the  clear,  large  moon  comes  out  at  times 
softly,  quietly  shining.     Amid  the  woods,  that  scene  of  flitting 
souls — amid  the  crack  and  crash  and  yelling  sounds — the  impal- 
pable perfume  of  the'woods — and  yet  the  pungent,  stifling  smoke — 
the  radiance  of  the  moon,  looking  from  heaven  at  intervals  so 
placid — the  sky  so  heavenly — the  clear-obscure  up  there,  those 
buoyant  upper  oceans — a  few  large  placid  stars  beyond,  coming 
silently  and  languidly  out,  and  then   disappearing — the  melan- 
choly,  draperied  night   above,  around.     And  there,  upon  the 
roads,  the  fields,  and  in  those  woods,  that  contest,  never  one 
more  desperate  in  any  age  or  land — both  parties  now  in  force — 
masses — no  fancy  battle,  no  semi-play,  but  fierce  and  savage  de- 
mons fighting  there — courage  and  scorn  of  death  the  rule,  excep- 
tions almost  none. 

What  history,  I  say,  can  ever  give — for  who  can  know — the 
mad,  determin'd  tussle  of  the  armies,  in  all  their  separate  large 
and  little  squads — as  this — each  steep'd  from  crown  to  toe  in 
desperate,  mortal  purports?  Who  know  the  conflict,  hand-to- 
hand — the  many  conflicts  in  the  dark,  those  shadowy-tangled, 
flashing-moonbeam'd  woods — the  writhing  groups  and  squads — 


36  SPECIMEN  DA  VS. 

the  cries,  the  din,  the  cracking  guns  and  pistols — the  distant 
cannon — the  cheers  and  calls  and  threats  and  awful  music  of 
the  oaths — the  indescribable  mix — the  officers'  orders,  persua- 
sions, encouragements — the  devils  fully  rous'd  in  human  hearts — 
the  strong  shout,  Charge,  men,  charge — the  flash  of  the  naked 
sword,  and  rolling  flame  and  smoke?  And  still  the  broken,  clear 
and  clouded  heaven — and  still  again  the  moonlight  pouring  sil- 
very soft  its  radiant  patches  over  all.  Who  paint  the  scene,  the 
sudden  partial  panic  of  the  afternoon,  at  dusk?  Who  paint  the 
irrepressible  advance  of  the  second  division  of  the  Third  corps, 
under  Hooker  himself,  suddenly  order'd  up — those  rapid-filing 
phantoms  through  the  woods?  Who  show  what  moves  there  in 
the  shadows,  fluid  and  firm — to  save,  (and  it  did  save,)  the  army's 
name,  perhaps  the  nation  ?  as  there  the  veterans  hold  the  field. 
(Brave  Berry  falls  not  yet — but  death  has  mark'd  him — soon 
he  falls.) 

UNNAMED  REMAINS  THE  BRAVEST  SOLDIER. 

Of  scenes  like  these,  I  say,  who  writes — whoe'er  can  write  the 
story  ?  Of  many  a  score — aye,  thousands,  north  and  south,  of 
unwrit  heroes,  unknown  heroisms,  incredible,  impromptu,  first- 
class  desperations — who  tells?  No  history  ever — no  poem  sings, 
no  music  sounds,  those  bravest  men  of  all — those  deeds.  No 
formal  general's  report,  nor  book  in  the  library,  nor  column  in 
the  paper,  embalms  the  bravest,  north  or  south,  east  or  west. 
Unnamed,  unknown,  remain,  and  still  remain,  the  bravest  sol- 
diers. Our  manliest — our  boys — our  hardy  darlings  ;  no  picture 
gives  them.  Likely,  the  typic  one  of  them  (standing,  no  doubt, 
for  hundreds,  thousands,)  crawls  aside  to  some  bush-clump,  or 
ferny  tuft,  on  receiving  his  death-shot — there  sheltering  a  little 
while,  soaking  roots,  grass  and  soil,  with  red  blood — the  battle 
advances,  retreats,  flits  from  the  scene,  sweeps  by — and  there, 
haply  with  pain  and  suffering  (yet  less,  far  less,  than  is  supposed,) 
the  last  lethargy  winds  like  a  serpent  round  him — the  eyes  glaze 
in  death — none  recks — perhaps  the  burial-squads,  in  truce,  a  week 
afterwards,  search  not  the  secluded  spot — and  there,  at  last,  the 
Bravest  Soldier  crumbles  in  mother  earth,  unburied  and  un- 
known. 

SOME  SPECIMEN  CASES. 

June  18th. — In  one  of  the  hospitals  I  find  Thomas  Haley,  com- 
pany M,  4th  New  York  cavalry — a  regular  Irish  boy,  a  fine  speci- 
men of  youthful  physical  manliness — shot  through  the  lungs — 
inevitably  dying — came  over  to  this  country  from  Ireland  to  en- 
list— has  not  a  single  friend  or  acquaintance  here — is  sleeping 
soundly  at  this  moment,  (but  it  is   the  sleep  of  death) — has  a 


SPECIMEN  DA  YS. 


37 


bullet-hole  straight  through  the  lung.  I  saw  Tom  when  first 
brought  here,  three  days  since,  and  didn't  suppose  he  could  live 
twelve  hours — (yet  he  looks  well  enough  in  the  face  to  a  casual 
observer.)  He  lies  there  with  his  frame  exposed  above  the  waist, 
all  naked,  for  coolness,  a  fine  built  man,  the  tan  not  yet  bleach'd 
from  his  cheeks  and  neck.  It  is  useless  to  talk  to  him,  as  with 
his  sad  hurt,  and  the  stimulants  they  give  him,  and  the  utter 
strangeness  of  every  object,  face,  furniture,  &c,  the  poor  fellow, 
even  when  awake,  is  like  some  frighten'd,  shy  animal.  Much  of 
the  time  he  sleeps,  or  half  sleeps.  (Sometimes  I  thought  he  knew 
more  than  he  show'd.)  I  often  come  and  sit  by  him  in  perfect 
silence ;  he  will  breathe  for  ten  minutes  as  softly  and  evenly  as 
a  young  babe  asleep.  Poor  youth,  so  handsome,  athletic,  with 
profuse  beautiful  shining  hair.  One  time  as  I  sat  looking  at 
him  while  he  lay  asleep,  he  suddenly,  without  the  least  start, 
awaken'd,  open'd  his  eyes,  gave  me  a  long  steady  look,  turning 
his  face  very  slightly  to  gaze  easier — one  long,  clear,  silent  look 
— a  slight  sigh — then  turn'd  back  and  went  into  his  doze  again. 
Little  he  knew,  poor  death-stricken  boy,  the  heart  of  the  stranger 
that  hover'd  near. 

W.  H.  £.,  Co.  F.,  2d  N.J. — His  disease  is  pneumonia.  He 
lay  sick  at  the  wretched  hospital  below  Aquia  creek,  for  seven  or 
eight  days  before  brought  here.  He  was  detail' d  from  his  regi- 
ment to  go  there  and  help  as  nurse,  but  was  soon  taken  down 
himself.  Is  an  elderly,  sallow-faced,  rather  gaunt,  gray-hair' d 
man,  a  widower,  with  children.  He  express' d  a  great  desire  for 
good,  strong  green  tea.  An  excellent  lady,  Mrs.  W.,  of  Wash- 
ington, soon  sent  him  a  package  ;  also  a  small  sum  of  money. 
The  doctor  said  give  him  the  tea  at  pleasure ;  it  lay  on  the  table 
by  his  side,  and  he  used  it  every  day.  He  slept  a  great  deal ; 
could  not  talk  much,  as  he  grew  deaf.  Occupied  bed  15,  ward  I, 
Armory.  (The  same  lady  above,  Mrs.  W.,  sent  the  men  a  large 
package  of  tobacco.) 

J.  G.  lies  in  bed  52,  ward  I;  is  of  company  B,  7th  Pennsyl- 
vania. I  gave  him  a  small  sum  of  money,  some  tobacco,  and  en- 
velopes. To  a  man  adjoining  also  gave  twenty-five  cents;  he 
flush 'd  in  the  face  when  I  offer' d  it — refused  at  first,  but  as  I 
found  he  had  not  a  cent,  and  was  very  fond  of  having  the  daily 
papers  to  read,  I  prest  it  on  him.  He  was  evidently  very  grate- 
ful, but  said  little. 

J.  T.  L.,  of  company  Fv  9th  New  Hampshire,  lies  in  bed  37, 
ward  I.  Is  very  fond  of  tobacco.  I  furnish  him  some  ;  also  with 
a  little  money.  Has  gangrene  of  the  feet  \  a  pretty  bad  case  ; 
will  surely  have  to  lose  three  toes.  Is  a  regular  specimen  of  an 
old-fashion'd,  rude,  hearty.  New  England  countryman,  impress- 


33 


SPECIMEN  DA  YS. 


ing  me  with  his  likeness  to  that  celebrated  singed  cat,  who  was 
better  than  she  look'd. 

Bed  3,  ward  E,  Armory,  has  a  great  hankering  for  pickles, 
something  pungent.  After  consulting  the  doctor,  I  gave  him  a 
small  bottle  of  horse-radish ;  also  some  apples  ;  also  a  book. 
Some  of  the  nurses  are  excellent.  The  woman-nurse  in  this 
ward  I  like  very  much.  (Mrs.  Wright — a  year  afterwards  I  found 
her  in  Mansion  house  hospital,  Alexandria — she  is  a  perfect 
nurse.) 

In  one  bed  a  young  man,  Marcus  Small,  company  K,  7th 
Maine — sick  with  dysentery  and  typhoid  fever — pretty  critical 
case — I  talk  with  him  often — he  thinks  he  will  die — looks  like  it 
indeed.  I  write  a  letter  for  him  home  to  East  Livernvore,  Maine 
— I  let  him  talk  to  me  a  little,  but  not  much,  advise  him  to  keep 
very  quiet — do  most  of  the  talking  myself — stay  quite  a  while 
with  him,  as  he  holds  on  to  my  hand — talk  to  him  in  a  cheering, 
but  slow,  low  and  measured  manner — talk  about  his  furlough, 
and  going  home  as  soon  as  he  is  able  to  travel. 

Thomas  Lindly,  1st  Pennsylvania  cavalry,  shot  very  badly 
through  the  foot — poor  young  man,  he  suffers  horribly,  has  to  be 
constantly  dosed  with  morphine,  his  face  ashy  and  glazed,  bright 
young  eyes — I  give  him  a  large  handsome  apple,  lay  it  in  sight, 
tell  him  to  have  it  roasted  in  the  morning,  as  he  generally  feels 
easier  then,  and  can  eat  a  little  breakfast.  I  write  two  letters 
for  him. 

Opposite,  an  old  Quaker  lady  is  sitting  by  the  side  of  her  son, 
Amer  Moore,  2d  U.  S.  artillery — shot  in  the  head  two  weeks  since, 
very  low,  quite  rational — from  hips  down  paralyzed — he  will 
surely  die.  I  speak  a  very  few  words  to  him  every  day  and  even- 
ing— he  answers  pleasantly — wants  nothing — (he  told  me  soon 
after  he  came  about  his  home  affairs,  his  mother  had  been  an  in- 
valid, and  he  fear'd  to  let  her  know  his  condition.)  He  died 
soon  after  she  came 

MY  PREPARATIONS  FOR  VISITS. 

In  my  visits  to  the  hospitals  I  found  it  was  in  the  simple  matter 
of  personal  presence,  and  emanating  ordinary  cheer  and  mag- 
netism, that  I  succeeded  and  help'd  more  than  by  medical 
nursing,  or  delicacies,  or  gifts  of  money,  or  anything  else. 
During  the  war  I  possess'd  the  perfection  of  physical  health. 
My  habit,  when  practicable,  was  to  prepare  for  starting  out  on 
one  of  those  daily  or  nightly  tours  of  from  a  couple  to  four  or 
five  hours,  by  fortifying  myself  with  previous  rest,  the  bath, 
clean  clothes,  a  good  meal,  and  as  cheerful  an  appearance  as 
possible. 


SPECIMEN  DA  YS.  39 

AMBULANCE  PROCESSIONS. 

June  25,  Sundown. — As  I  sit  writing  this  paragraph  I  see  a  train 
of  about  thirty  huge  four-horse  wagons,  used  as  ambulances,  fill'd 
with  wounded,  passing  up  Fourteenth  street,  on  their  way,  prob- 
ably, to  Columbian,  Carver,  and  mount  Pleasant  hospitals.  This 
is  the  way  the  men  come  in  now,  seldom  in  small  numbers,  but 
almost  always  in  these  long,  sad  processions.  Through  the  past 
winter,  while  our  army  lay  opposite  Fredericksburgh,  the  like 
strings  of  ambulances  were  of  frequent  occurrence  along  Seventh 
street,  passing  slowly  up  from  the  steamboat  wharf,  with  loads 
from  Aquia  creek. 

BAD  WOUNDS— THE  YOUNG. 

The  soldiers  are  nearly  all  young  men,  and  far  more  American 
than  is  generally  supposed — I  should  say  nine-tenths  are  native- 
born.  Among  the  arrivals  from  Chancellorsville  I  find  a  large 
proportion  of  Ohio,  Indiana,  and  Illinois  men.  As  usual,  there 
are  all  sorts  of  wounds.  Some  of  the  men  fearfully  burnt  from 
the  explosions  of  artillery  caissons.  One  ward  has  a  long  row 
of  officers,  some  with  ugly  hurts.  Yesterday  was  perhaps  worse 
than  usual.  Amputations  are  going  on — the  attendants  are  dress- 
ing wounds.  As  you  pass  by,  you  must  be  on  your  guard  where 
you  look.  I  saw  the  other  day  a  gentleman,  a  visitor  apparently 
from  curiosity,  in  one  of  the  wards,  stop  and  turn  a  moment  to 
look  at  an  awful  wound  they  were  probing.  He  turn'd  pale,  and 
in  a  moment  more  he  had  fainted  away  and  fallen  on  the  floor. 

THE  MOST  INSPIRITING  OF  ALL  WAR'S  SHOWS. 

June  29. — Just  before  sundown  this  evening  a  very  large  cav- 
alry force  went  by — a  fine  sight.  The  men  evidently  had  seen 
service.  First  came  a  mounted  band  of  sixteen  bugles,  drums 
and  cymbals,  playing  wild  martial  tunes — made  my  heart  jump. 
Then  the  principal  officers,  then  company  after  company,  with 
their  officers  at  their  heads,  making  of  course  the  main  part  of 
the  cavalcade ;  then  a  long  train  of  men  with  led  horses,  lots  of 
mounted  negroes  with  special  horses — and  a  long  string  of  bag- 
gage-wagons, each  drawn  by  four  horses — and  then  a  motley  rear 
guard.  It  was  a  pronouncedly  warlike  and  gay  show ;  the  sabres 
clank' d,  the  men  look'd  young  and  healthy  and  strong  ;  the  elec- 
tric tramping  of  so  many  horses  on  the  hard  road,  and  the  gallant 
bearing,  fine  seat,  and  bright  faced  appearance  of  a  thousand  and 
more  handsome  young  American  men,  were  so  good  to  see.  An 
hour  later  another  troop  went  by,  smaller  in  numbers,  perhaps 
three  hundred  men.  They  too  look'd  like  serviceable  men,  cam- 
paigners used  to  field  and  fight. 

July  3. — This  forenoon,  for  more  than  an  hour,  again  long 


40  SPECIMEN  DA  VS. 

strings  of  cavalry,  several  regiments,  very  fine  men  and  horses, 
four  or  five  abreast.  I  saw  them  in  Fourteenth  street,  coming  in 
town  from  north.  Several  hundred  extra  horses,  some  of  the 
mares  with  colts,  trotting  along.  (Appear'd  to  be  a  number  of 
prisoners  too.)  How  inspiriting  always  the  cavalry  regiments. 
Our  men  are  generally  well  mounted,  feel  good,  are  young,  gay 
on  the  saddle,  their  blankets  in  a  roll  behind  them,  their  sabres 
clanking  at  their  sides.  This  noise  and  movement  and  the  tramp 
of  many  horses'  hoofs  has  a  curious  effect  upon  one.  The  bugles 
play — presently  you  hear  them  afar  off,  deaden'd,  mix'd  with 
other  noises.  Then  just  as  they  had  all  pass'd,  a  string  of  ambu- 
lances commenc'd  from  the  other  way,  moving  up  Fourteenth 
street  north,  slowly  wending  along,  bearing  a  large  lot  of  wounded 

to  the  hospitals. 

BATTLE  OF  GETTYSBURG. 

July  4th. — The  weather  to-day,  upon  the  whole,  is  very  fine, 
warm,  but  from  a  smart  rain  last  night,  fresh  enough,  and  no  dust, 
which  is  a  great  relief  for  this  city.  I  saw  the  parade  about  noon, 
Pennsylvania  avenue,  from  Fifteenth  street  down  toward  the  capi- 
tol.  There  were  three  regiments  of  infantry,  (I  suppose  the  ones 
doing  patrol  duty  here,)  two  or  three  societies  of  Odd  Fellows, 
a  lot  of  children  in  barouches,  and  a  squad  of  policemen.  (A 
useless  imposition  upon  the  soldiers — they  have  work  enough  on 
their  backs  without  piling  the  like  of  this.)  As  I  went  down  the 
Avenue,  saw  a  big  flaring  placard  on  the  bulletin  board  of  a 
newspaper  office,  announcing  "  Glorious  Victory  for  the  Union 
Army!"  Meade  had  fought  Lee  at  Gettysburg,  Pennsylvania, 
yesterday  and  day  before,  and  repuls'd  him  most  signally,  taken 
3,000  prisoners,  &c.  (I  afterwards  saw  Meade's  despatch,  very 
modest,  and  a  sort  of  order  of  the  day  from  the  President  him- 
self, quite  religious,  giving  thanks  to  the  Supreme,  and  calling 
on  the  people  to  do  the  same.)  I  walk'd  on  to  Armory  hospi- 
tal— took  along  with  me  several  bottles  of  blackberry  and  cherry 
syrup,  good  and  strong,  but  innocent.  Went  through  several  of 
the  wards,  announc'd  to  the  soldiers  the  news  from  Meade,  and 
gave  them  all  a  good  drink  of  the  syrups  with  ice  water,  quite 
refreshing — prepar'd  it  all  myself,  and  serv'd  it  around.  Mean- 
while the  Washington  bells  are  ringing  their  sundown  peals  for 
Fourth  of  July,  and  the  usual  fusilades  of  boys'  pistols,  crackers, 
and  guns. 

A  CAVALRY  CAMP. 

I  am  writing  this,  nearly  sundown,  watching  a  cavalry  com- 
pany (acting  Signal  service,)  just  come  in  through  a  shower, 
making  their  night's  camp  ready  on  some  broad,  vacant  ground, 
a  sort  of  hill,  in  full  view  opposite  my  window.     There  are  the 


SPECIMEN  DA  YS. 


41 


men  in  their  yellow-striped  jackets.  All  are  dismounted ;  the 
freed  horses  stand  with  drooping  heads  and  wet  sides  ;  they  are 
to  be  led  off  presently  in  groups,  to  water.  The  little  wall-tents 
and  shelter  tents  spring  up  quickly.  I  see  the  fires  already  blazing, 
and  pots  and  kettles  over  them.  Some  among  the  men  are  driving 
in  tent-poles,  wielding  their  axes  with  strong,  slow  blows.  I  see 
great  huddles  of  horses,  bundles  of  hay,  groups  of  men  (some 
with  unbuckled  sabres  yet  on  their  sides,)  a  few  officers,  piles  of 
wood,  the  flames  of  the  fires,  saddles,  harness,  &c.  The  smoke 
streams  upward,  additional  men  arrive  and  dismount — some  drive 
in  stakes,  and  tie  their  horses  to  them  ;  some  go  with  buckets  for 
water,  some  are  chopping  wood,  and  so  on. 

July  6th. — A  steady  rain,  dark  and  thick  and  warm.  A  train 
of  six-mule  wagons  has  just  pass'd  bearing  pontoons,  great  square- 
end  flat-boats,  and  the  heavy  planking  for  overlaying  them.  We 
hear  that  the  Potomac  above  here  is  flooded,  and  are  wondering 
whether  Lee  will  be  able  to  get  back  across  again,  or  whether 
Meade  will  indeed  break  him  to  pieces.  The  cavalry  camp  on 
the  hill  is  a  ceaseless  field  of  observation  for  me.  This  forenoon 
there  stand  the  horses,  tether'd  together,  dripping,  steaming, 
chewing  their  hay.  The  men  emerge  from  their  tents,  dripping 
also.     The  fires  are  half  quench'd. 

July  10th. — Still  the  camp  opposite — perhaps  fifty  or  sixty  tents. 
Some  of  the  men  are  cleaning  their  sabres  (pleasant  to-day,)  some 
brushing  boots,  some  laying  off,  reading,  writing — some  cooking, 
some  sleeping.  On  long  temporary  cross-sticks  back  of  the  tents 
are  cavalry  accoutrements — blankets  and  overcoats  are  hung  out 
to  air — there  are  the  squads  of  horses  tether'd,  feeding,  continu- 
ally stamping  and  whisking  their  tails  to  keep  off  flies.  I  sit  long 
in  my  third  story  window  and  look  at  the  scene — a  hundred  little 
things  going  on — peculiar  objects  connected  with  the  camp  that 
could  not  be  described,  any  one  of  them  justly,  without  much 
minute  drawing  and  coloring  in  words. 

A  NEW  YORK  SOLDIER. 

This  afternoon,  July  2 2d,  I  have  spent  along  time  with  Oscar 
F.  Wilber,  company  G,  154th  New  York,  low  with  chronic  diar- 
rhoea, and  a  bad  wound  also.  He  asked  me  to  read  him  a  chap- 
ter in  the  New  Testament.  I  complied,  and  ask'd  him  what  I 
should  read.  He  said,  "  Make  your  own  choice."  I  open'd  at 
the  close  of  one  of  the  first  books  of  the  evangelists,  and  read 
the  chapters  describing  the  latter  hours  of  Christ,  and  the  scenes 
at  the  crucifixion.  The  poor,  wasted  young  man  ask'd  me  to 
read  the  following  chapter  also,  how  Christ  rose  again.  I  read 
very  slowly,  for  Oscar  was  feeble.     It  pleased  him  very  much,  yet 


42 


SPECIMEN  DA  YS. 


the  tears  were  in  his  eyes.  He  ask'd  me  if  I  enjoy'd  religion. 
I  said,  "  Perhaps  not,  my  dear,  in  the  way  you  mean,  and  yet, 
may-be,  it  is  the  same  thing."  He  said,  "It  is  my  chief  reli- 
ance." He  talk'd  of  death,  and  said  he  did  not  fear  it.  I  said, 
"  Why,  Oscar,  don't  you  think  you  will  get  well?"  He  said,  "  I 
may,  but  it  is  not  probable."  He  spoke  calmly  of  his  condition. 
The  wound  was  very  bad,  it  discharg'd  much.  Then  the  diar- 
rhoea had  prostrated  him,  and  I  felt  that  he  was  even  then  the 
same  as  dying.  He  behaved  very  manly  and  affectionate.  The 
kiss  I  gave  him  as  I  was  about  leaving  he  return' d  fourfold.  He 
gave  me  his  mother's  address,  Mrs.  Sally  D.  Wilber,  Alleghany 
post-office,  Cattaraugus  county,  N.  Y.  I  had  several  such  in- 
terviews with  him.  He  died  a  few  days  after  the  one  just  de- 
scribed. 

HOME-MADE  MUSIC. 

August  8th. — To-night,  as  I  was  trying  to  keep  cool,  sitting  by 
a  wounded  soldier  in  Armory-square,  I  was  attracted  by  some 
pleasant  singing  in  an  adjoining  ward.  As  my  soldier  was  asleep, 
I  left  him,  and  entering  the  ward  where  the  music  was,  I  walk'd 
half-way  down  and  took  a  seat  by  the  cot  of  a  young  Brooklyn 
friend,  S.  R.,  badly  wounded  in  the  hand  at  Chancellorsville,  and 
who  has  suffer'd  much,  but  at  that  moment  in  the  evening  was 
wide  awake  and  comparatively  easy.  He  had  turn'd  over  on  his 
left  side  to  get  a  better  view  of  the  singers,  but  the  mosquito-cur- 
tains of  the  adjoining  cots  obstructed  the  sight.  I  stept  round 
and  loop'd  them  all  up,  so  that  he  had  a  clear  show,  and  then  sat 
down  again  by  him,  and  look'd  and  listen'd.  The  principal 
singer  was  a  young  lady-nurse  of  one  of  the  wards,  accompany- 
ing on  a  melodeon,  and  join'd  by  the  lady-nurses  of  other  wards. 
They  sat  there,  making  a  charming  group,  with  their  handsome, 
healthy  faces,  and  standing  up  a  little  behind  them  were  some  ten 
or  fifteen  of  the  convalescent  soldiers,  young  men,  nurses,  &c, 
with  books  in  their  hands,  singing.  Of  course  it  was  not  such 
a  performance  as  the  great  soloists  at  the  New  York  opera  house 
take  a  hand  in,  yet  I  am  not  sure  but  I  receiv'd  as  much  pleasure 
under  the  circumstances,  sitting  there,  as  I  have  had  from  the 
best  Italian  compositions,  express' d  by  world-famous  performers. 
The  men  lying  up  and  down  the  hospital,  in  their  cots,  (some 
badly  wounded — some  never  to  rise  thence,)  the  cots  themselves, 
with  their  drapery  of  white  curtains,  and  the  shadows  down  the 
lower  and  upper  parts  of  the  ward  ;  then  the  silence  of  the  men, 
and  the  attitudes  they  took — the  whole  was  a  sight  to  look  around 
upon  again  and  again.  And  there  sweetly  rose  those  voices  up 
to  the  high,  whitewash'd  wooden  roof,  and  pleasantly  the  roof 
sent  it  all  back  again.     They  sang  very  well,  mostly  quaint  old 


SPECIMEN  DA  YS. 


43 


songs  and  declamatory  hymns,  to  fitting  tunes.     Here,  for  in- 
stance : 

My  days  are  swiftly  gliding  by,  and  I  a  pilgrim  stranger, 
Would  not  detain  them  as  they  fly,  those  hours  of  toil  and  danger ; 
For  O  we  stand  on  Jordan's  strand,  our  friends  are  passing  over, 
And  just  before,  the  shining  shore  we  may  almost  discover. 

We'll  gird  our  loins  my  brethren  dear,  our  distant  home  discerning, 
Our  absent  Lord  has  left  us  word,  let  every  lamp  be  burning, 
For  O  we  stand  on  Jordan's  strand,  our  friends  are  passing  over, 
And  just  before,  the  shining  shore  we  may  almost  discover. 

ABRAHAM  LINCOLN. 
August  12th. — I  see  the  President  almost  every  day,  as  I  hap- 
pen to  live  where  he  passes  to  or  from  his  lodgings  out  of  town. 
He  never  sleeps  at  the  White  House  during  the  hot  season,  but 
has  quarters  at  a  healthy  location  some  three  miles  north  of  the 
city,  the  Soldiers'  home,  a  United  States  military  establishment. 
I  saw  him  this  morning  about  8)4  coming  in  to  business,  riding 
on  Vermont  avenue,  near  L  street.  He  always  has  a  company  of 
twenty-five  or  thirty  cavalry,  with  sabres  drawn  and  held  upright 
over  their  shoulders.  They  say  this  guard  was  against  his  personal 
wish,  but  he  let  his  counselors  have  their  way.  The  party  makes  no 
great  show  in  uniform  or  horses.  Mr.  Lincoln  on  the  saddle  gen- 
erally rides  a  good-sized,  easy-going  gray  horse,  is  dress'd  in  plain 
black,  somewhat  rusty  and  dusty,  wears  a  black  stiff  hat,  and 
looks  about  as  ordinary  in  attire,  &c,  as  the  commonest  man.  A 
lieutenant,  with  yellow  straps,  rides  at  his  left,  and  following  be- 
hind, two  by  two,  come  the  cavalry  men,  in  their  yellow-striped 
jackets.  They  are  generally  going  at  a  slow  trot,  as  that  is  the 
pace  set  them  by  the  one  they  wait  upon.  The  sabres  and  ac- 
coutrements clank,  and  the  entirely  unornamental  cortege  as  it 
trots  towards  Lafayette  square  arouses  no  sensation,  only  some 
curious  stranger  stops  and  gazes.  I  see  very  plainly  Abraham 
Lincoln's  dark  brown  face,  with  the  deep-cut  lines,  the  eyes,  al- 
ways to  me  with  a  deep  latent  sadness  in  the  expression.  We  have 
got  so  that  we  exchange  bows,  and  very  cordial  ones.  Some- 
times the  President  goes  and  comes  in  an  open  barouche.  The 
cavalry  always  accompany  him,  with  drawn  sabres.  Often  I  no- 
tice as  he  goes  out  evenings — and  sometimes  in  the  morning, 
when  he  returns  early — he  turns  off  and  halts  at  the  large  and 
handsome  residence  of  the  Secretary  of  War,  on  K  street,  and 
holds  conference  there.  If  in  his  barouche,  I  can  see  from  my 
window  he  does  not  alight,  but  sits  in  his  vehicle,  and  Mr.  Stan- 
ton comes  out  to  attend  him.  Sometimes  one  of  his  sons,  a  boy 
of  ten  or  twelve,  accompanies  him,  riding  at  his  right  on  a  pony. 
Earlier  in  the  summer  I  occasionally  saw  the  President  and  his 


44 


SPECIMEN  DA  YS. 


wife,  toward  the  latter  part  of  the  afternoon,  out  in  a  barouche, 
on  a  pleasure  ride  through  the  city.  Mrs.  Lincoln  was  dress'd 
in  complete  black,  with  a  long  crape  veil.  The  equipage  is  of  the 
plainest  kind,  only  two  horses,  and  they  nothing  extra.  They 
pass'd  me  once  very  close,  and  I  saw  the  President  in  the  face 
fully,  as  they  were  moving  slowly,  and  his  look,  though  abstracted, 
happen'd  to  be  directed  steadily  in  my  eye.  He  bow'd  and 
smiled,  but  far  beneath  his  smile  I  noticed  well  the  expression  I 
have  alluded  to.  None  of  the  artists  or  pictures  has  caught  the 
deep,  though  subtle  and  indirect  expression  of  this  man's  face. 
There  is  something  else  there.  One  of  the  great  portrait  painters 
of  two  or  three  centuries  ago  is  needed. 

HEATED  TERM. 

There  has  lately  been  much  suffering  here  from  heat;  we  have 
had  it  upon  us  now  eleven  days.  I  go  around  with  an  umbrella 
and  a  fan.  I  saw  two  cases  of  sun-stroke  yesterday,  one  in  Penn- 
sylvania avenue,  and  another  in  Seventh  street.  The  City  rail- 
road company  loses  some  horses  every  day.  Yet  Washington  is 
having  a  livelier  August,  and  is  probably  putting  in  a  more  ener- 
getic and  satisfactory  summer,  than  ever  before  during  its  exist- 
ence. There  is  probably  more  human  electricity,  more  popula- 
tion to  make  it,  more  business,  more  light-heartedness,  than  ever 
before.  The  armies  that  swiftly  circumambiated  from  Fredericks- 
burgh — march'd,  struggled,  fought,  had  out  their  mighty  clinch 
and  hurl  at  Gettysburg — wheel'd,  circumambiated  again,  re- 
turn'd  to  their  ways,  touching  us  not,  either  at  their  going  or 
coming.  And  Washington  feels  that  she  has  pass'd  the  worst ; 
perhaps  feels  that  she  is  henceforth  mistress.  So  here  she  sits 
with  her  surrounding  hills  spotted  with  guns,  and  is  conscious  of 
a  character  and  identity  different  from  what  it  was  five  or  six 
short  weeks  ago,  and  very  considerably  pleasanter  and  prouder. 

SOLDIERS  AND  TALKS. 
Soldiers,  soldiers,  soldiers,  you  meet  everywhere  about  the 
city,  often  superb-looking  men,  though  invalids  dress'd  in  worn 
uniforms,  and  carrying  canes  or  crutches.  I  often  have  talks 
with  them,  occasionally  quite  long  and  interesting.  One,  for  in- 
stance, will  have  been  all  through  the  peninsula  under  McClellan 
— narrates  to  me  the  fights,  the  marches,  the  strange,  quick 
changes  of  that  eventful  campaign,  and  gives  glimpses  of  many 
things  untold  in  any  official  reports  or  books  or  journals.  These, 
indeed,  are  the  things  that  are  genuine  and  precious.  The  man 
was  there,  has  been  out  two  years,  has  been  through  a  dozen 
fights,  the  superfluous  flesh  of  talking  is  long  work'd  off  him,  and 
he  gives  me  little  but  the  hard  meat  and  sinew.     I  find  it  re- 


SPECIMEN  DA  YS.  45 

freshing,  these  hardy,  bright,  intuitive,  American  young  men, 
(experienc'd  soldiers  with  all  their  youth.)  The  vocal  play  and 
significance  moves  one  more  than  books.  Then  there  hangs 
something  majestic  about  a  man  who  has  borne  his  part  in  bat- 
tles, especially  if  he  is  very  quiet  regarding  it  when  you  desire 
him  to  unbosom.  I  am  continually  lost  at  the  absence  of  blow- 
ing and  blowers  among  these  old-young  American  militaires.  I 
have  found  some  man  or  other  who  has  been  in  every  battle  since 
the  war  began,  and  have  talk'd  with  them  about  each  one  in 
every  part  of  the  United  States,  and  many  of  the  engagements 
on  the  rivers  and  harbors  too.  I  find  men  here  from  every  State 
in  the  Union,  without  exception.  (There  are  more  Southerners, 
especially  border  State  men,  in  the  Union  army  than  is  gener- 
ally supposed.*)  I  now  doubt  whether  one  can  get  a  fair  idea  of 
what  this  war  practically  is,  or  what  genuine  America  is,  and  her 
character,  without  some  such  experience  as  this  I  am  having. 

DEATH  OF  A  WISCONSIN  OFFICER. 
Another  characteristic  scene  of  that  dark  and  bloody  1863, 
from  notes  of  my  visit  to  Armory-square  hospital,  one  hot  but 
pleasant  summer  day.  In  ward  H  we  approach  the  cot  of  a 
young  lieutenant  of  one  of  the  Wisconsin  regiments.  Tread  the 
bare  board  floor  lightly  here,  for  the  pain  and  panting  of  death 
are  in  this  cot.  I  saw  the  lieutenant  when  he  was  first  brought 
here  from  Chancellorsville,  and  have  been  with  him  occasionally 
from  day  to  day  and  night  to  night.  He  had  been  getting  along 
pretty  well  till  night  before  last,  when  a  sudden  hemorrhage  that 
could  not  be  stopt  came  upon  him,  and  to-day  it  still  continues 
at  intervals.  Notice  that  water-pail  by  the  side  of  the  bed,  with 
a  quantity  of  blood  and  bloody  pieces  of  muslin,  nearly  full; 
that  tells  the  story.  The  poor  young  man  is  struggling  painfully 
for  breath,  his  great  dark  eyes  with  a  glaze  already  upon  them, 
and  the  choking  faint  but  audible  in  his  throat.  An  attendant 
sits  by  him,  and  will  not  leave  him  till  the  last ;  yet  little  or 
nothing  can  be  done.  He  will  die  here  in  an  hour  or  two,  with- 
out the  presence  of  kith  or  kin.  Meantime  the  ordinary  chat 
and  business  of  the  ward  a  little  way  off  goes  on  indifferently. 

*  Mr.  Garfield  [In  the  House  of  Representatives,  April  zj,  'yg.)  "Do 
gentlemen  know  that  (leaving  out  all  the  border  States)  there  were  fifty  regi- 
ments and  seven  companies  of  white  men  in  our  army  fighting  for  the  Union 
from  the  States  that  went  into  rebellion  ?  Do  they  know  that  from  the  single 
State  of  Kentucky  more  Union  soldiers  fought  under  our  flag  than  Napoleon 
took  into  the  battle  of  Waterloo  ?  more  than  Wellington  took  with  all  the 
allied  armies  against  Napoleon?  Do  they  remember  that  186,000  color'd  men 
fought  under  our  flag  against  the  rebellion  and  for  the  Union,  and  that  of  that 
number  90,000  were  from  the  States  which  went  into  rebellion  ?  " 


46  SPECIMEN  DAYS,   . 

Some  of  the  inmates  are  laughing  and  joking,  others  are  playing 
checkers  or  cards,  others  are  reading,  &c. 

I  have  noticed  through  most  of  the  hospitals  that  as  long  as 
there  is  any  chance  for  a  man,  no  matter  how  bad  he  may  be, 
the  surgeon  and  nurses  work  hard,  sometimes  with  curious  tena- 
city, for  his  life,  doing  everything,  and  keeping  somebody  by  him 
to  execute  the  doctor's  orders,  and  minister  to  him  every  minute 
night  and  day.  See  that  screen  there.  As  you  advance  through 
the  dusk  of  early  candle-light,  a  nurse  will  step  forth  on  tip-toe, 
and  silently  but  imperiously  forbid  you  to  make  any  noise,  or 
perhaps  to  come  near  at  all.  Some  soldier's  life  is  flickering 
there,  suspended  between  recovery  and  death.  Perhaps  at  this 
moment  the  exhausted  frame  has  just  fallen  into  a  light  sleep 
that  a  step  might  shake.  You  must  retire.  The  neighboring  pa- 
tients must  move  in  their  stocking  feet.  I  have  been  several 
times  struck  with  such  mark'd  efforts — everything  bent  to  save  a 
life  from  the  very  grip  of  the  destroyer.  But  when  that  grip  is 
once  firmly  fix'd,  leaving  no  hope  or  chance  at  all,  the  surgeon 
abandons  the  patient.  If  it  is  a  case  where  stimulus  is  any  relief, 
the  nurse  gives  milk-punch  or  brandy,  or  whatever  is  wanted,  ad 
libitum.  There  is  no  fuss  made.  Not  a  bit  of  sentimentalism  or 
whining  have  I  seen  about  a  single  death-bed  in  hospital  or  on 
the  field,  but  generally  impassive  indifference.  All  is  over,  as  far 
as  any  efforts  can  avail ;  it  is  useless  to  expend  emotions  or  labors. 
While  there  is  a  prospect  they  strive  hard — at  least  most  surgeons 
do;  but  death  certain  and  evident,  they  yield  the  field. 

HOSPITALS  ENSEMBLE. 

Aug.,  Sep.,  and  Oct.,  *6j. — I  am  in  the  habit  of  going  to  all, 
and  to  Fairfax  seminary,  Alexandria,  and  over  Long  bridge  to 
the  great  Convalescent  camp.  The  journals  publish  a  regular 
directory  of  them — a  long  list.  As  a  specimen  of  almost  any 
one  of  the  larger  of  these  hospitals,  fancy  to  yourself  a  space  of 
three  to  twenty  acres  of  ground,  on  which  are  group'd  ten  or 
twelve  very  large  wooden  barracks,  with,  perhaps,  a  dozen  or 
twenty,  and  sometimes  more  than  that  number,  small  buildings, 
capable  altogether  of  accommodating  from  five  hundred  to  a 
thousand  or  fifteen  hundred  persons.  Sometimes  these  wooden 
barracks  or  wards,  each  of  them  perhaps  from  a  hundred  to  a 
hundred  and  fifty  feet  long,  are  rang'd  in  a  straight  row,  evenly 
fronting  the  street ;  others  are  plann'd  so  as  to  form  an  immense 
V;  and  others  again  are  ranged  around  a  hollow  square.  They 
make  altogether  a  huge  cluster,  with  the  additional  tents,  extra 
wards  for  contagious  diseases,  guard-houses,  sutler's  stores,  chap- 
lain's house ;  in  the  middle  will  probably  be  an  edifice  devoted 


SPECIMEN  DA  VS. 


47 


to  the  offices  of  the  surgeon  in  charge  and  the  ward  surgeons, 
principal  attaches,  clerks,  &c.  The  wards  are  either  letter'd  al- 
phabetically, ward  G,  ward  K,  or  else  numerically,  i,  2,  3,  &c. 
Each  has  its  ward  surgeon  and  corps  of  nurses.  Of  course,  there 
is,  in  the  aggregate,  quite  a  muster  of  employes,  and  over  all  the 
surgeon  in  charge.  Here  in  Washington,  when  these  army  hos- 
pitals are  all  fill'd,  (as  they  have  been  already  several  times,) 
they  contain  a  population  more  numerous  in  itself  than  the  whole 
of  the  Washington  of  ten  or  fifteen  years  ago.  Within  sight  of 
the  capitol,  as  I  write,  are  some  thirty  or  forty  such  collections, 
at  times  holding  from  fifty  to  seventy  thousand  men.  Looking 
from  any  eminence  and  studying  the  topography  in  my  rambles, 
I  use  them  as  landmarks.  Through  the  rich  August  verdure  of 
the  trees,  see  that  white  group  of  buildings  off  yonder  in  the  out- 
skirts ;  then  another  cluster  half  a  mile  to  the  left  of  the  first ; 
then  another  a  mile  to  the  right,  and  another  a  mile  beyond,  and 
still  another  between  us  and  the  first.  Indeed,  we  can  hardly 
look  in  any  direction  but  these  clusters  are  dotting  the  landscape 
and  environs.  That  little  town,  as  you  might  suppose  it,  off 
there  on  the  brow  of  a  hill,  is  indeed  a  town,  but  of  wounds, 
sickness,  and  death.  It  is  Finley  hospital,  northeast  of  the  city, 
on  Kendall  green,  as  it  used  to  be  call'd.  That  other  is  Camp- 
bell hospital.  Both  are  large  establishments.  I  have  known 
these  two  alone  to  have  from  two  thousand  to  twenty  five  hun- 
dred inmates.  Then  there  is  Carver  hospital,  larger  still,  a  wall'd 
and  military  city  regularly  laid  out,  and  guarded  by  squads  of 
sentries.  Again,  off  east,  Lincoln  hospital,  a  still  larger  one ; 
and  half  a  mile  further  Emory  hospital.  Still  sweeping  the  eye 
around  down  the  river  toward  Alexandria,  we  see,  to  the  right, 
the  locality  where  the  Convalescent  camp  stands,  with  its  five, 
eight,  or  sometimes  ten  thousand  inmates.  Even  all  these  are 
but  a  portion.  The  Harewood,  Mount  Pleasant,  Armory-square, 
Judiciary  hospitals,  are  some  of  the  rest,  and  all  large  collec- 
tions. 

A  SILENT  NIGHT  RAMBLE. 

October  20th. — To-night,  after  leaving  the  hospital  at  10 
o'clock,  (I  had  been  on  self-imposed  duty  some  five  hours,  pretty 
closely  confined,)  I  wander'd  a  long  time  around  Washington. 
The  night  was  sweet,  very  clear,  sufficiently  cool,  a  voluptuous 
half-moon,  slightly  golden,  the  space  near  it  of  a  transparent 
blue-gray  tinge.  I  walk'd  up  Pennsylvania  avenue,  and  then  to 
Seventh  street,  and  a  long  while  around  the  Patent-office.  Some- 
how it  look'd  rebukefully  strong,  majestic,  there  in  the  delicate 
moonlight.  The  sky,  the  planets,  the  constellations  all  so  bright, 
so  calm,  so  expressively  silent,  so  soothing,  after  those  hospital 


48 


SPECIMEN  DA  YS. 


scenes.     I  wander' d  to  and  fro  till  the  moist  moon  set,  long  after 
midnight. 

SPIRITUAL  CHARACTERS  AMONG  THE  SOLDIERS. 

Every  now  and  then,  in  hospital  or  camp,  there  are  beings  I 
meet — specimens  of  unworldliness,  disinterestedness,  and  animal 
purity  and  heroism — perhaps  some  unconscious  Indianian,  or 
from  Ohio  or  Tennessee — on  whose  birth  the  calmness  of  heaven 
seems  to  have  descended,  and  whose  gradual  growing  up,  what- 
ever the  circumstances  of  work-life  or  change,  or  hardship,  or 
small  or  no  education  that  attended  it,  the  power  of  a  strange 
spiritual  sweetness,  fibre  and  inward  health,  have  also  attended. 
Something  veil'd  and  abstracted  is  often  a  part  of  the  manners 
of  these  beings.  I  have  met  them,  I  say,  not  seldom  in  the  army, 
in  camp,  and  in  the  hospitals.  The  Western  regiments  con- 
tain many  of  them.  They  are  often  young  men,  obeying  the 
events  and  occasions  about  them,  marching,  soldiering,  fighting, 
foraging,  cooking,  working  on  farms  or  at  some  trade  before 
the  war — unaware  of  their  own  nature,  (as  to  that,  who  is  aware 
of  his  own  nature  ?)  their  companions  only  understanding  that 
they  are  different  from  the  rest,  more  silent,  "  something  odd 
about  them,"  and  apt  to  go  off  and  meditate  and  muse  in  soli- 
tude. 

CATTLE  DROVES  ABOUT  WASHINGTON. 

Among  other  sights  are  immense  droves  of  cattle  with  their 
drivers,  passing  through  the  streets  of  the  city.  Some  of  the 
men  have  a  way  of  leading  the  cattle  by  a  peculiar  call,  a  wild, 
pensive  hoot,  quite  musical,  prolong'd,  indescribable,  sounding 
something  between  the  cooing  of  a  pigeon  and^the  hoot  of  an 
owl.  I  like  to  stand  and  look  at  the  sight  of  one  of  these  im- 
mense droves — a  little  way  off — (as  the  dust  is  great.)  There  are 
always  men  on  horseback,  cracking  their  whips  and  shouting — 
the  cattle  low — some  obstinate  ox  or  steer  attempts  to  escape — 
then  a  lively  scene — the  mounted  men,  always  excellent  riders 
and  on  good  horses,  dash  after  the  recusant,  and  wheel  and  turn 
— a  dozen  mounted  drovers,  their  great  slouch'd,  broad-brim'd 
hats,  very  picturesque — another  dozen  on  foot — everybody  cov- 
er'd  with  dust — long  goads  in  their  hands — an  immense  drove 
of  perhaps  iooo  cattle — the  shouting,  hooting,  movement,  &c. 

HOSPITAL  PERPLEXITY. 

To  add  to  other  troubles,  amid  the  confusion  of  this  great  army 
of  sick,  it  is  almost  impossible  for  a  stranger  to  find  any  friend 
or  relative,  unless  he  has  the  patient's  specific  address  to  start 
upon.     Besides  the  directory  printed  in  the  newspapers  here, 


SPECIMEN  DA  YS. 


49 


there  are  one  or  two  general  directories  of  the  hospitals  kept  at 
provost's  headquarters,  but  they  are  nothing  like  complete;  they 
are  never  up  to  date,  and,  as  things  are,  with  the  daily  streams 
of  coming  and  going  and  changing,  cannot  be.  I  have  known 
cases,  for  instance  such  as  a  farmer  coming  here  from  northern 
New  York  to  find  a  wounded  brother,  faithfully  hunting  round 
for  a  week,  and  then  compell'd  to  leave  and  go  home  without 
getting  any  trace  of  him.  When  he  got  home  he  found  a  letter 
from  the  brother  giving  the  right  address. 

DOWN  AT  THE  FRONT. 

Culpepper,  Va.,  Feb.  '64. — Here  I  am  pretty  well  down 
toward  the  extreme  front.  Three  or  four  days  ago  General  S., 
who  is  now  in  chief  command,  (I  believe  Meade  is  absent,  sick,) 
moved  a  strong  force  southward  from  camp  as  if  intending  busi- 
ness. They  went  to  the  Rapidan  ;  there  has  since  been  some 
manoeuvring  and  a  little  fighting,  but  nothing  of  consequence. 
The  telegraphic  accounts  given  Monday  morning  last,  make  en- 
tirely too  much  of  it,  I  should  say.  What  General  S.  intended 
we  here  know  not,  but  we  trust  in  that  competent  commander. 
We  were  somewhat  excited,  (but  not  so  very  much  either,)  on 
Sunday,  during  the  day  and  night,  as  orders  were  sent  out  to  pack 
up  and  harness,  and  be  ready  to  evacuate,  to  fall  back  towards 
Washington.  But  I  was  very  sleepy  and  went  to  bed.  Sometre: 
mendous  shouts  arousing  me  during  the  night,  I  went  forth  and 
found  it  was  from  the  men  above  mention'd,  who  were  returning. 
I  talk'd  with  some  of  the  men ;  as  usual  I  found  them  full  of 
gayety,  endurance,  and  many  fine  little  outshows,  the  signs  of 
the  most  excellent  good  manliness  of  the  world.  It  was  a  curious 
sight  to  see  those  shadowy  columns  moving  through  the  night. 
I  stood  unobserv'd  in  the  darkness  and  watch'd  them  long.  The 
mud  was  very  deep.  The  men  had  their  usual  burdens,  overcoats, 
knapsacks,  guns  and  blankets.  Along  and  along  they  filed  by 
me,  with  often  a  laugh,  a  song,  a  cheerful  word,  but  never  once 
a  murmur.  It  may  have  been  odd,, but  I  never  before  so  realized 
the  majesty  and  reality  of  the  American  people  en  masse.  It  fell 
upon  me  like  a  great  awe.  The  strong  ranks  moved  neither  fast 
nor  slow.  They  had  march' d  seven  or  eight  miles  already  through 
the  slipping  unctuous,  mud.  The  brave  First  corps  stopt  here. 
The  equally  brave  Third  corps  moved  on  to  Brandy  station.  The 
famous  Brooklyn  14th  are  here,  guarding  the  town.  You  see  their 
red  legs  actively  moving  everywhere.  Then  they  have  a  theatre 
of  their  own  here.  They  give  musical  performances,  nearly 
everything  done  capitally.  Of  course  the  audience  is  a  jam.  It 
is  good  sport  to  attend  one  of  these  entertainments  of  the  14th. 


5° 


SPECIMEN  DA  VS. 


I  like  to  look  around  at  the  soldiers,  and  the  general  collection 
in  front  of  the  curtain,  more  than  the  scene  on  the  stage. 

PAYING  THE  BOUNTIES. 
One  of  the  things  to  note  here  now  is  the  arrival  of  the 
paymaster  with  his  strong  box,  and  the  payment  of  bounties  to 
veterans  re-enlisting.  Major  H.  is  here  to-day,  with  a  small 
mountain  of  greenbacks,  rejoicing  the  hearts  of  the  2d  division 
of  the  First  corps.  In  the  midst  of  a  rickety  shanty,  behind  a 
little  table,  sit  the  major  and  clerk  Eldridge,  with  the  rolls  be- 
fore them,  and  much  moneys.  A  re-enlisted  man  gets  in  cash 
about  $200  down,  (and  heavy  instalments  following,  as  the  pay- 
days arrive,  one  after  another.)  The  show  of  the  men  crowding 
around  is  quite  exhilarating ;  I  like  to  stand  and  look.  They 
feel  elated,  their  pockets  full,  and  the  ensuing  furlough,  the  visit 
home.  It  is  a  scene  of  sparkling  eyes  and  flush' d  cheeks.  The 
soldier  has  many  gloomy  and  harsh  experiences,  and  this  makes 
up  for  some  of  them.  Major  H.  is  order' d  to  pay  first  all  the 
re-enlisted  men  of  the  First  corps  their  bounties  and  back  pay, 
and  then  the  rest.  You  hear  the  peculiar  sound  of  the  rustling  of 
the  new  and  crisp  greenbacks  by  the  hour,  through  the  nimble 
fingers  of  the  major  and  my  friend  clerk  E. 

RUMORS,  CHANGES,  &c. 

About  the  excitement  of  Sunday,  and  the  orders  to  be  ready 
to  start,  I  have  heard  since  that  the  raid  orders  came  from  some 
cautious  minor  commander,  and  that  the  high  principalities  knew 
not  and  thought  not  of  any  such  move ;  which  is  likely.  The 
rumor  and  fear  here  intimated  a  long  circuit  by  Lee,  and  flank 
attack  on  our  right.  But  I  cast  my  eyes  at  the  mud,  which  was 
then  at  its  deepest  and  palmiest  condition,  and  retired  com- 
posedly to  rest.  Still  it  is  about  time  for  Culpepper  to  have  a 
change.  Authorities  have  chased  each  other  here  like  clouds  in 
a  stormy  sky.  Before  the  first  Bull  Run  this  was  the  rendezvous 
and  camp  of  instruction  of  the  secession  troops.  I  am  stopping 
at  the  house  of  a  lady  who  has  witness'd  all  the  eventful  changes 
of  the  war,  along  this  route  of  contending  armies.  She  is  a 
widow,  with  a  family  of  young  children,  and  lives  here  with  her 
sister  in  a  large  handsome  house.  A  number  of  army  officers 
board  with  them. 

VIRGINIA. 

Dilapidated,  fenceless,  and  trodden  with  war  as  Virginia  is, 
wherever  I  move  across  her  surface,  I  find  myself  rous'd  to  sur- 
prise and  admiration.  What  capacity  for  products,  improvements, 
human  life,  nourishment  and  expansion.  Everywhere  that  I 
have  been  in  the  Old  Dominion,  (the  subtle  mockery  of  that 


SPECIMEN  DA  VS.  5 1 

title  now !)  such  thoughts  have  fill'd  me.  The  soil  is  yet  far 
above  the  average  of  any  of  the  northern  States.  And  how  full 
of  breadth  the  scenery,  everywhere  distant  mountains,  every- 
where convenient  rivers.  Even  yet  prodigal  in  forest  woods, 
and  surely  eligible  for  all  the  fruits,  orchards,  and  flowers.  The 
skies  and  atmosphere  most  luscious,  as  1  feel  certain,  from  more 
than  a  year's  residence  in  the  State,  and  movements  hither  and 
yon.  I  should  say  very  healthy,  as  a  general  thing.  Then  a  rich 
and  elastic  quality,  by  night  and  by  day.  The  sun  rejoices  in 
his  strength,  dazzling  and  burning,  and  yet,  to  me,  never  un- 
pleasantly weakening.  It  is  not  the  panting  tropical  heat,  but 
invigorates.  The  north  tempers  it.  The  nights  are  often  un- 
surpassable. Last  evening  (Feb.  8,)  I  saw  the  first  of  the  new 
moon,  the  outlined  old  moon  clear  along  with  it ;  the  sky  and 
air  so  clear,  such  transparent  hues  of  color,  it  seem'd  to  me  I  had 
never  really  seen  the  new  moon  before.  It  was  the  thinnest  cut 
crescent  possible.  It  hung  delicate  just  above  the  sulky  shadow 
of  the  Blue  mountains.  Ah,  if  it  might  prove  an  omen  and  good 
prophecy  for  this  unhappy  State. 

SUMMER  OF  1864. 

I  am  back  again  in  Washington,  on  my  regular  daily  and 
nightly  rounds.  Of  course  there  are  many  specialties.  Dotting 
a  ward  here  and  there  are  always  cases  of  poor  fellows,  long-suf- 
fering under  obstinate  wounds,  or  weak  and  dishearten' d  from 
typhoid  fever,  or  the  like ;  mark'd  cases,  needing  special  and 
sympathetic  nourishment.  These  I  sit  down  and  either  talk  to, 
or  silently  cheer  them  up.  They  always  like  it  hugely,  (and  so 
do  I.)  Each  case  has  its  peculiarities,  and  needs  some  new 
adaptation.  I  have  learnt  to  thus  conform — learnt  a  good  deal 
of  hospital  wisdom.  Some  of  the  poor  young  chaps,  away  from 
home  for  the  first  time  in  their  lives,  hunger  and  thirst  for  affec- 
tion ;  this  is  sometimes  the  only  thing  that  will  reach  their  con- 
dition. The  men  like  to  have  a  pencil,  and  something  to  write 
in.  I  have  given  them  cheap  pocket-diaries,  and  almanacs  for 
1864,  interleav'd  with  blank  paper.  For  reading  I  generally 
have  some  old  pictorial  magazines  or  story  papers — they  are  al- 
ways acceptable.  Also  the  morning  or  evening  papers  of  the 
day.  The  best  books  I  do  not  give,  but  lend  to  read  through 
the  wards,  and  then  take  them  to  others,  and  so  on  ;  they  are 
very  punctual  about  returning  the  books.  In  these  wards,  or  on 
the  field,  as  I  thus  continue  to  go  round,  I  have  come  to  adapt 
myself  to  each  emergency,  after  its  kind  or  call,  however  trivial, 
however  solemn,  every  one  justified  and  made  real  under  its  cir- 
cumstances— not  only  visits  and  cheering  talk  and  little  gifts-*- 


52 


SPECIMEN  DA  VS. 


not  only  washing  and  dressing  wounds,  (I  have  some  cases  where 
the  patient  is  unwilling  any  one  should  do  this  but  me) — but 
passages  from  the  Bible,  expounding  them,  prayer  at  the  bed- 
side, explanations  of  doctrine,  &c.  (I  think  I  see  my  friends 
smiling  at  this  confession,  but  I  was  never  more  in  earnest  in  my 
life.)  In  camp  and  everywhere,  I  was  in  the  habit  of  reading  or 
giving  recitations  to  the  men.  They  were  very  fond  of  it,  and 
liked  declamatory  poetical  pieces.  We  would  gather  in  a  large 
group  by  ourselves,  after  supper,  and  spend  the  time  in  such 
readings,  or  in  talking,  and  occasionally  by  an  amusing  game 
called  the  game  of  twenty  questions. 

A  NEW  ARMY  ORGANIZATION  FIT  FOR  AMERICA. 

It  is  plain  to  me  out  of  the  events  of  the  war,  north  and  south, 
and  out  of  all  considerations,  that  the  current  military  theory, 
practice,  rules  and  organization,  (adopted  from  Europe  from  the 
feudal  institutes,  with,  of  course,  the  "modern  improvements," 
largely  from  the  French,)  though  tacitly  follow'd,  and  believ'd 
in  by  the  officers  generally,  are  not  at  all  consonant  with  the 
United  States,  nor  our  people,  nor  our  days.  What  it  will  be  I 
know  not — but  I  know  that  as  entire  an  abnegation  of  the  present 
military  system,  and  the  naval  too,  and  a  building  up  from  radi- 
cally different  root-bases  and  centres  appropriate  to  us,  must 
eventually  result,  as  that  our  political  system  has  resulted  and  be- 
come establish'd,  different  from  feudal  Europe,  and  built  up  on 
itself  from  original,  perennial,  democratic  premises.  We  have 
undoubtedly  in  the  United  States  the  greatest  military  power — 
an  exhaustless,  intelligent,  brave  and  reliable  rank  and  file — in 
the  world,  any  land,  perhaps  all  lands.  The  problem  is  to  or- 
ganize this  in  the  manner  fully  appropriate  to  it,  to  the  princi- 
ples of  the  republic,  and  to  get  the  best  service  out  of  it.  In 
the  present  struggle,  as  already  seen  and  review'd,  probably  three- 
fourths  of  the  losses,  men,  lives,  &c,  have  been  sheer  superfluity, 
extravagance,  waste. 

DEATH  OF  A  HERO. 

I  wonder  if  I  could  ever  convey  to  another — to  you,  for  in- 
stance, reader  dear — the  tender  and  terrible  realities  of  such 
cases,  (many,  many  happen'd,)  as  the  one  I  am  now  going  to 
mention.  Stewart  C.  Glover,  company  E,  5th  Wisconsin — was 
wounded  May  5,  in  one  of  those  fierce  tussles  of  the  Wilderness — 
died  May  21 — aged  about  20.  He  was  a  small  and  beardless 
young  man — a  splendid  soldier — in  fact  almost  an  ideal  Ameri- 
can, of  his  age.  He  had  serv'd  nearly  three  years,  and  would 
have  been  entitled  to  his  discharge  in  a  few  days.  He  was  in 
Hancock's  corps.     The  fighting  had  about  ceas'd  for  the  day, 


SPECIMEN  DA  VS. 


53 


and  the  general  commanding  the  brigade  rode  by  and  call'd  for 
volunteers  to  bring  in  the  wounded.  Glover  responded  among 
the  first — went  out  gayly — but  while  in  the  act  of  bearing  in  a 
wounded  sergeant  to  our  lines,  was  shot  in  the  knee  by  a  rebel 
sharpshooter ;  consequence,  amputation  and  death.  He  had  re- 
sided with  his  father,  John  Glover,  an  aged  and  feeble  man,  in 
Batavia,  Genesee  county,  N.  Y.,  but  was  at  school  in  Wisconsin, 
after  the  war  broke  out,  and  there  enlisted — soon  took  to  soldier- 
life,  liked  it,  was  very  manly,  was  belov'd  by  officers  and  com- 
rades. He  kept  a  little  diary,  like  so  many  of  the  soldiers.  On 
the  day  of  his  death  he  wrote  the  following  in  it,  to-day  the  doctor 
says  I  must  die — all  is  over  with  me — ah,  so  young  to  die.  On  an- 
other blank  leaf  he  pencill'd  to  his  brother,  dear  brother  Thomas, 
I  have  been  brave  but  wicked— pray  for  me. 

HOSPITAL  SCENES.— INCIDENTS. 

It  is  Sunday  afternoon,  middle  of  summer,  hot  and  oppressive, 
and  very  silent  through  the  ward.  I  am  taking  care  of  a  critical 
case,  now  lying  in  a  half  lethargy.  Near  where  I  sit  is  a  suffer- 
ing rebel,  from  the  8th  Louisiana ;  his  name  is  Irving.  He  has 
been  here  a  long  time,  badly  wounded,  and  lately  had  his  leg 
amputated ;  it  is  not  doing  very  well.  Right  opposite  me  is  a 
sick  soldier-boy,  laid  down  with  his  clothes  on,  sleeping,  looking 
much  wasted,  his  pallid  face  on  his  arm.  I  see  by  the  yellow 
trimming  on  his  jacket  that  he  is  a  cavalry  boy.  I  step  softly 
over  and  find  by  his  card  that  he  is  named  William  Cone,  of  the 
ist  Maine  cavalry,  and  his  folks  live  in  Skowhegan. 

Ice  Cream  Treat. — One  hot  day  toward  the  middle  of  June,  I 
gave  the  inmates  of  Carver  hospital  a  general  ice  cream  treat, 
purchasing  a  large  quantity,  and,  under  convoy  of  the  doctor  or 
head  nurse,  going  around  personally  through  the  wards  to  see  to 
its  distribution. 

An  Incident. — In  one  of  the  fights  before  Atlanta,  a  rebel  sol- 
dier, of  large  size,  evidently  a  young  man,  was  mortally  wounded 
top  of  the  head,  so  that  the  brains  partially  exuded.  He  lived 
three  days,  lying  on  his  back  on  the  spot  where  he  first  dropt. 
He  dug  with  his  heel  in  the  ground  during  that  time  a  hole  big 
enough  to  put  in  a  couple  of  ordinary  knapsacks.  He  just  lay 
there  in  the  open  air,  and  with  little  intermission  kept  his  heel 
going  night  and  day.  Some  of  our  soldiers  then  moved  him  to 
a  house,  but  he  died  in  a  few  minutes. 

Another. — After  the  battles  at  Columbia,  Tennessee,  where  we 
repuls'd  about  a  score  of  vehement  rebel  charges,  they  left  a 
great  many  wounded  on  the  ground,  mostly  within  our  range. 
Whenever  any  of  these  wounded  attempted  to  move  away  by  any 


54 


SPECIMEN  DA  YS. 


means,  generally  by  crawling  off,  our  men  without  exception 
brought  them  down  by  a  bullet.  They  let  none  crawl  away,  no 
matter  what  his  condition. 

A  YANKEE  SOLDIER. 

As  I  turn'd  off  the  Avenue  one  cool  October  evening  into 
Thirteenth  street,  a  soldier  with  knapsack  and  overcoat  stood  at 
the  corner  inquiring  his  way.  I  found  he  wanted  to  go  part  of 
the  road  in  my  direction,  so  we  walk'd  on  together.  We  soon 
fell  into  conversation.  He  was  small  and  not  very  young,  and  a 
tough  little  fellow,  as  I  judged  in  the  evening  light,  catching 
glimpses  by  the  lamps  we  pass'd.  His  answers  were  short,  but 
clear.  His  name  was  Charles  Carroll ;  he  belong' d  to  one  of  the 
Massachusetts  regiments,  and  was  born  in  or  near  Lynn.  His 
parents  were  living,  but  were  very  old.  There  were  four  sons, 
and  all  had  enlisted.  Two  had  died  of  starvation  and  misery  in 
the  prison  at  Andersonville,  and  one  had  been  kill'd  in  the  west. 
He  only  was  left.  He  was  now  going  home,  and  by  the  way  he 
talk'd  I  inferr'd  that  his  time  was  nearly  out.  He  made  great 
calculations  on  being  with  his  parents  to  comfort  them  the  rest 
of  their  days. 

UNION  PRISONERS  SOUTH. 

Michael  Stansbury,  48  years  of  age,  a  sea-faring  man,  a  south- 
erner by  birth  and  raising,  formerly  captain  of  U.  S.  light  ship 
Long  Shoal,  station'd  at  Long  Shoal  point,  Pamlico  sound — though 
a  southerner,  a  firm  Union  man — was  captur'd  Feb.  17,  1863, 
and  has  been  nearly  two  years  in  the  Confederate  prisons;  was 
at  one  time  order'd  releas'd  by  Governor  Vance,  but  a  rebel  offi- 
cer re-arrested  him ;  then  sent  on  to  Richmond  for  exchange — 
but  instead  of  being  exchanged  was  sent  down  (as  a  southern 
citizen,  not  a  soldier,)  to  Salisbury,  N.  C,  where  he  remain'd 
until  lately,  when  he  escap'd  among  the  exchang'd  by  assuming 
the  name  of  a  dead  soldier,  and  coming  up  via  Wilmington  with 
the  rest.  Was  about  sixteen  months  in  Salisbury.  Subsequent 
to  October,  '64,  there  were  about  11,000  Union  prisoners  in  the 
stockade;  about  100  of  them  southern  unionists,  200  U.  S.  de- 
serters. During  the  past  winter  1500  of  the  prisoners,  to  save 
their  lives,  join'd  the  confederacy,  on  condition  of  being  assign'd 
merely  to  guard  duty.  Out  of  the  11,000  not  more  than  2500 
came  out ;  500  of  these  were  pitiable,  helpless  wretches — the  rest 
were  in  a  condition  to  travel.  There  were  often  60  dead  bodies 
to  be  buried  in  the  morning;  the  daily  average  would  be  about 
40.  The  regular  food  was  a  meal  of  corn,  the  cob  and  husk 
ground  together,  and  sometimes  once  a  week  a  ration  of  sorghum 
molasses.     A  diminutive  ration  of  meat  might  possibly  come 


SPECIMEN  DA  YS. 


55 


once  a  month,  not  oftener.  In  the  stockade,  containing  the 
ii>ooo  men,  there  was  a  partial  show  of  tents,  not  enough  for 
2000.  A  large  proportion  of  the  men  lived  in  holes  in  the 
ground,  in  the  utmost  wretchedness.  Some  froze  to  death,  others 
had  their  hands  and  feet  frozen.  The  rebel  guards  would  occa- 
sionally, and  on  the  least  pretence,  fire  into  the  prison  from  mere 
demonism  and  wantonness.  All  the  horrors  that  can  be  named, 
starvation,  lassitude,  filth,  vermin,  despair,  swift  loss  of  self-respect, 
idiocy,  insanity,  and  frequent  murder,  were  there.  Stansbury  has 
a  wife  and  child  living  in  Newbern — has  written  to  them  from 
here — is  in  the  U.  S.  light-house  employ  still — (had  been  home 
to  Newbern  to  see  his  family,  and  on  his  return  to  the  ship  was 
captured  in  his  boat.)  Has  seen  men  brought  there  to  Salisbury 
as  hearty  as  you  ever  see  in  your  life — in  a  few  weeks  completely 
dead  gone,  much  of  it  from  thinking  on  their  condition — hope 
all  gone.  Has  himself  a  hard,  sad, -strangely  deaden'd  kind  of 
look,  as  of  one  chill'd  for  years  in  the  cold  and  dark,  where  his 
good  manly  nature  had  no  room  to  exercise  itself. 

DESERTERS. 

Oct.  24. — Saw  a  large  squad  of  our  own  deserters,  (over  300) 
surrounded  with  a  cordon  of  arm'd  guards,  marching  along  Penn- 
sylvania avenue.  The  most  motley  collection  I  ever  saw,  all 
sorts  of  rig,  all  sorts  of  hats  and  caps,  many  fine-looking  young 
fellows,  some  of  them  shame-faced,  some  sickly,  most  of  them 
dirty,  shirts  very  dirty  and  long  worn,  &c.  They  tramp'd  along 
without  order,  a  huge  huddling  mass,  not  in  ranks.  I  saw  some 
of  the  spectators  laughing,  but  I  felt  like  anything  else  but  laugh- 
ing. These  deserters  are  far  more  numerous  than  would  be 
thought.  Almost  every  day  I  see  squads  of  them,  sometimes  two 
or  three  at  a  time,  with  a  small  guard ;  sometimes  ten  or  twelve, 
under  a  larger  one.  (I  hear  that  desertions  from  the  army  now 
in  the  field  have  often  averaged  10,000  a  month.  One  of  the 
commonest  sights  in  Washington  is  a  squad  of  deserters.) 

A  GLIMPSE  OF  WAR'S  HELL-SCENES. 

In  one  of  the  late  movements  of  our  troops  in  the  valley,  (near 
Upperville,  I  think,)  a  strong  force  of  Moseby's  mounted  gueril- 
las attack'd  a  train  of  wounded,  and  the  guard  of  cavalry  con- 
voying them.  The  ambulances  contain' d  about  60  wounded, 
quite  a  number  of  them  officers  of  rank.  The  rebels  were  in 
strength,  and  the  capture  of  the  train  and  its  partial  guard  after 
a  short  snap  was  effectually  accomplished.  No  sooner  had  our 
men  surrender'd,  the  rebels  instantly  commenced  robbing  the 
train  and  murdering  their  prisoners,  even  the  wounded.     Here  is 


56 


SPECIMEN  DA  YS. 


the  scene  or  a  sample  of  it,  ten  minutes  after.  Among  the 
wounded  officers  in  the  ambulances  were  one,  a  lieutenant  of 
regulars,  and  another  of  higher  rank.  These  two  were  dragg'd 
out  on  the  ground  on  their  backs,  and  were  now  surrounded  by 
the  guerillas,  a  demoniac  crowd,  each  member  of  which  was  stab- 
bing them  in  different  parts  of  their  bodies.  One  of  the  officers 
had  his  feet  pinn'd  firmly  to  the  ground  by  bayonets  stuck  through 
them  and  thrust  into  the  ground.  These  two  officers,  as  after- 
wards found  on  examination,  had  receiv'd  about  twenty  such 
thrusts,  some  of  them  through  the  mouth,  face,  &c.  The 
wounded  had  all  been  dragg'd  (to  give  a  better  chance  also  for 
plunder,)  out  of  their  wagons;  some  had  been  effectually  dis- 
patch'd,  and  their  bodies  were  lying  there  lifeless  and  bloody. 
Others,  not  yet  dead,  but  horribly  mutilated,  were  moaning  or 
groaning.  Of  our  men  who  surrender'd,  most  had  been  thus 
maim'd  or  slaughter'd. 

At  this  instant  a  force  of  our  cavalry,  who  had  been  following 
the  train  at  some  interval,  charged  suddenly  upon  the  secesh  cap- 
tors, who  proceeded  at  once  to  make  the  best  escape  they  could. 
Most  of  them  got  away,  but  we  gobbled  two  officers  and  seven- 
teen men,  in  the  very  acts  just  described.  The  sight  was  one 
which  admitted  of  little  discussion,  as  may  be  imagined.  The 
seventeen  captur'd  men  and  two  officers  were  put  under  guard 
for  the  night,  but  it  was  decided  there  and  then  that  they  should 
die.  The  next  morning  the  two  officers  were  taken  in  the  town, 
separate  places,  put  in  the  centre  of  the  street,  and  shot.  The 
seventeen  men  were  taken  to  an  open  ground,  a  little  one  side. 
They  were  placed  in  a  hollow  square,  half-encompass'd  by  two 
of  our  cavalry  regiments,  one  of  which  regiments  had  three  days 
before  found  the  bloody  corpses  of  three  of  their  men  hamstrung 
and  hung  up  by  the  heels  to  limbs  of  trees  by  Moseby's  guerillas, 
and  the  other  had  not  long  before  had  twelve  men,  after  surren- 
dering, shot  and  then  hung  by  the  neck  to  limbs  of  trees,  and 
jeering  inscriptions  pinn'd  to  the  breast  of  one  of  the  corpses, 
who  had  been  a  sergeant.  Those  three,  and  those  twelve,  had 
been  found,  I  say,  by  these  environing  regiments.  Now,  with 
revolvers,  they  form'd  the  grim  cordon  of  the  seventeen  prison- 
ers. The  latter  were  placed  in  the  midst  of  the  hollow  square, 
unfasten'd,  and  the  ironical  remark  made  to  them  that  they  were 
now  to  be  given  "a.  chance  for  themselves."  A  few  ran  for  it. 
But  what  use  ?  From  every  side  the  deadly  pills  came.  In  a  few 
minutes  the  seventeen  corpses  strew'd  the  hollow  square.  I  was 
curious  to  know  whether  some  of  the  Union  soldiers,  some  few, 
(some  one  or  two  at  least  of  the  youngsters,)  did  not  abstain 
from  shooting  on  the  helpless  men.     Not  one.     There  was  no 


SPECIMEN  DA  VS.  5  7 

exultation,  very  little  said,  almost  nothing,  yet  every  man  there 
contributed  his  shot. 

Multiply  the  above  by  scores,  aye  hundreds — verify  it  in  all 
the  forms  that  different  circumstances,  individuals,  places,  could 
afford — light  it  with  every  lurid  passion,  the  wolfs,  the  lion's 
lapping  thirst  for  blood — the  passionate,  boiling  volcanoes  of  hu- 
man revenge  for  comrades,  brothers  slain — with  the  light  of  burn- 
ing farms,  and  heaps  of  smutting,  smouldering  black  embers — 
and  in  the  human  heart  everywhere  black,  worse  embers — and 
you  have  an  inkling  of  this  war. 

GIFTS— MONEY— DISCRIMINATION. 

As  a  very  large  proportion  of  the  wounded  came  up  from 
the  front  without  a  cent  of  money  in  their  pockets,  I  soon  dis- 
cover'd  that  it  was  about  the  best  thing  I  could  do  to  raise 
their  spirits,  and  show  them  that  somebody  cared  for  them,  and 
practically  felt  a  fatherly  or  brotherly  interest  in  them,  to  give 
them  small  sums  in  such  cases,  using  tact  and  discretion  about 
it.  I  am  regularly  supplied  with  funds  for  this  purpose  by  good 
women  and  men  in  Boston,  Salem,  Providence,  Brooklyn,  and 
New  York.  I  provide  myself  with  a  quantity  of  bright  new  ten- 
cent  and  five-cent  bills,  and,  when  I  think  it  incumbent,  I  give 
25  or  30  cents,  or  perhaps  50  cents,  and  occasionally  a  still  larger 
sum  to  some  particular  case.  As  I  have  started  this  subject,  I 
take  opportunity  to  ventilate  the  financial  question.  My  supplies, 
altogether  voluntary,  mostly  confidential,  often  seeming  quite 
Providential,  were  numerous  and  varied.  For  instance,  there 
were  two  distant  and  wealthy  ladies,  sisters,  who  sent  regularly, 
for  two  years,  quite  heavy  sums,  enjoining  that  their  names  should 
be  kept  secret.  The  same  delicacy  was  indeed  a  frequent  condi- 
tion. From  several  I  had  carte  blanche.  Many  were  entire 
strangers.  From  these  sources,  during  from  two  to  three  years, 
in  the  manner  described,  in  the  hospitals,  I  bestowed,  as  almoner 
for  others,  many,  many  thousands  of  dollars.  I  learn'd  one  thing 
conclusively — that  beneath  all  the  ostensible  greed  and  heartless- 
ness  of  our  times  there  is  no  end  to  the  generous  benevolence  of 
men  and  women  in  the  United  States,  when  once  sure  of  their 
object.  Another  thing  became  clear  to  me — while  cash  is  not 
amiss  to  bring  up  the  rear,  tact  and  magnetic  sympathy  and  unc- 
tion are,  and  ever  will  be,  sovereign  still. 

ITEMS  FROM  MY  NOTE  BOOKS. 
Some  of  the  half-eras'd,  and  not  over-legible  when  made,  mem- 
oranda of  things  wanted  by  one  patient  or  another,  will  convey 
quite  a  fair  idea.     D.  S.  G.,  bed  52,  wants  a  good  book;  has  a 
sore,  weak  throat ;  would  like  some  horehound  candy;  is  from 


58 


SPECIMEN  DA  VS. 


New  Jersey,  28th  regiment.  C.  H.  L.,  145th  Pennsylvania,  lies 
in  bed  6,  with  jaundice  and  erysipelas;  also  wounded;  stomach 
easily  nauseated  ;  bring  him  some  oranges,  also  a  little  tart  jelly  ; 
hearty,  full-blooded  young  fellow— (he  got  better  in  a  few  days, 
and  is  now  home  on  a  furlough.)  J.  H.  G.,  bed  24,  wants  an 
undershirt,  drawers,  and  socks ;  has  not  had  a  change  for  quite 
a  while ;  is  evidently  a  neat,  clean  boy  from  New  England— (I 
supplied  him  ;  also  with  a  comb,  tooth-brush,  and  some  soap  and 
towels ;  I  noticed  afterward  he  was  the  cleanest  of  the  whole 
ward.)  Mrs.  G.,  lady-nurse,  ward  F,  wants  a  bottle  of  brandy 
— has  two  patients  imperatively  requiring  stimulus — low  with 
wounds  and  exhaustion.  (I  supplied  her  with  a  bottle  of  first- 
rate  brandy  from  the  Christian  commission  rooms.) 

A  CASE  FROM  SECOND  BULL  RUN. 
Well,  poor  John  Mahay  is  dead.  He  died  yesterday.  His 
was  a  painful  and  long-lingering  case,  (see  p.  30  ante?)  I  have 
been  with  him  at  times  for  the  past  fifteen  months.  He  belonged 
to  company  A,  101st  New  York,  and  was  shot  through  the  lower 
region  of  the  abdomen  at  second  Bull  Run,  August,  '62.  One 
scene  at  his  bedside  will  suffice  for  the  agonies  of  nearly  two 
years.  The  bladder  had  been  perforated  by  a  bullet  going  en- 
tirely through  him.  Not  long  since  I  sat  a  good  part  of  the  morn- 
ing by  his  bedside,  ward  E,  Armory  square.  The  water  ran  out 
of  his  eyes  from  the  intense  pain,  and  the  muscles  of  his  face 
were  distorted,  but  he  utter'd  nothing  except  a  low  groan  now 
and  then.  Hot  moist  cloths  were  applied,  and  reliev'd  him  some- 
what. Poor  Mahay,  a  mere  boy  in  age,  but  old  in  misfortune. 
He  never  knew  the  love  of  parents,  was  placed  in  infancy  in  one 
of  the  New  York  charitable  institutions,  and  subsequently  bound 
out  to  a  tyrannical  master  in  Sullivan  county,  (the  scars  of  whose 
cowhide  and  club  remain'd  yet  on  his  back.)  His  wound  here 
was  a  most  disagreeable  one,  for  he  was  a  gentle,  cleanly,  and  af- 
fectionate boy.  He  found  friends  in  his  hospital  life,  and,  indeed, 
was  a  universal  favorite.     He  had  quite  a  funeral  ceremony. 

ARMY  SURGEONS— AID  DEFICIENCIES. 
I  must  bear  my  most  emphatic  testimony  to  the  zeal,  manli- 
ness, and  professional  spirit  and  capacity,  generally  prevailing 
among  the  surgeons,  many  of  them  young  men,  in  the  hospitals 
and  the  army.  I  will  not  say  much  about  the  exceptions,  for  they 
are  few ;  (but  I  have  met  some  of  those  few,  and  very  incompe- 
tent and  airish  they  were.)  I  never  ceas'd  to  find  the  best  men, 
and  the  hardest  and  most  disinterested  workers,  among  the  sur- 
geons in  the  hospitals.  They  are  full  of  genius,  too.  I  have 
seen  many  hundreds  of  them  and  this  is  my  testimony.     There 


SPECIMEN  DA  YS. 


59 


are,  however,  serious  deficiencies,  wastes,  sad  want  of  system, 
in  the  commissions,  contributions,  and  in  all  the  voluntary,  and 
a  great  part  of  the  governmental  nursing,  edibles,  medicines, 
stores,  &c.  (I  do  not  say  surgical  attendance,  because  the  sur- 
geons cannot  do  more  than  human  endurance  permits.)  What- 
ever puffing  accounts  there  may  be  in  the  papers  of  the  North, 
this  is  the  actual  fact.  No  thorough  previous  preparation,  no 
system,  no  foresight,  no  genius.  Always  plenty  of  stores,  no 
doubt,  but  never  where  they  are  needed,  and  never  the  proper 
application.  Of  all  harrowing  experiences,  none  is  greater  than 
that  of  the  days  following  a  heavy  battle.  Scores,  hundreds  of 
the  noblest  men  on  earth,  uncomplaining,  lie  helpless,  mangled, 
faint,  alone,  and  so  bleed  to  death,  or  die  from  exhaustion,  either 
actually  untouch'd  at  all,  or  merely  the  laying  of  them  down 
and  leaving  them,  when  there  ought  to  be  means  provided  to  save 
them. 

THE  BLUE  EVERYWHERE. 

This  city,  its  suburbs,  the  capitol,  the  front  of  the  White 
House,  the  places  of  amusement,  the  Avenue,  and  all  the  main 
streets,  swarm  with  soldiers  this  winter,  more  than  ever  before. 
Some  are  out  from  the  hospitals,  some  from  the  neighboring 
camps,  &c.  One  source  or  another,  they  pour  plenteously,  and 
make,  I  should  say,  the  mark'd  feature  in  the  human  movement 
and  costume-appearance  of  our  national  city.  Their  blue  pants 
and  overcoats  are  everywhere.  The  clump  of  crutches  is  heard 
up  the  stairs  of  the  paymasters'  offices,  and  there  are  character- 
istic groups  around  the  doors  of  the  same,  often  waiting  long  and 
wearily  in  the  cold.  Toward  the  latter  part  of  the  afternoon, 
you  see  the  furlough'd  men,  sometimes  singly,  sometimes  in  small 
squads,  making  their  way  to  the  Baltimore  depot.  At  all  times, 
except  early  in  the  morning,  the  patrol  detachments  are  moving 
around,  especially  during  the  earlier  hours  of  evening,  examining 
passes,  and  arresting  all  soldiers  without  them.  They  do  not 
question  the  one-legged,  or  men  badly  disabled  or  maim'd,  but 
all  others  are  stopt.  They  also  go  around  evenings  through  the 
auditoriums  of  the  theatres,  and  make  officers  and  all  show  their 
passes,  or  other  authority,- for  being  there. 

A  MODEL  HOSPITAL. 
Sunday,  January  29th,  1865. — Have  been  in  Armory-square 
this  afternoon.  The  wards  are  very  comfortable,  new  floors  and 
plaster  walls,  and  models  of  neatness.  I  am  not  sure  but  this  is 
a  model  hospital  after  all,  in  important  respects.  I  found  several 
sad  cases  of  old  lingering  wounds.  One  Delaware  soldier,  William 
H.  Millis,  from  Bridgeville,  whom  I  had  been  with  after  the  bat- 


6o  SPECIMEN  DA  VS. 

ties  of  the  Wilderness,  last  May,  where  he  receiv'd  a  very  bad 
wound  in  the  chest,  with  another  in  the  left  arm,  and  whose  case 
was  serious  (pneumonia  had  set  in)  all  last  June  and  July,  I  now 
find  well  enough  to  do  light  duty.  For  three  weeks  at  the  time 
mention'd  he  just  hovered  between  life  and  death. 

BOYS  IN  THE  ARMY. 

As  I  walk'd  home  about  sunset,  I  saw  in  Fourteenth  street  a 
very  young  soldier,  thinly  clad,  standing  near  the  house  I  was 
about  to  enter.  I  stopt  a  moment  in  front  of  the  door  and  call'd 
him  to  me.  I  knew  that  an  old  Tennessee  regiment,  and  also  an 
Indiana  regiment,  were  temporarily  stopping  in  new  barracks, 
near  Fourteenth  street.  This  boy  I  found  belonged  to  the  Ten- 
nessee regiment.  But  I  could  hardly  believe  he  carried  a  musket. 
He  was  but  15  years  old,  yet  had  been  twelve  months  a  soldier, 
and  had  borne  his  part  in  several  battles,  even  historic  ones.  I 
ask'd  him  if  he  did  not  suffer  from  the  cold,  and  if  he  had  no 
overcoat.  No,  he  did  not  suffer  from  cold,  and  had  no  overcoat, 
but  could  draw  one  whenever  he  wish'd.  His  father  was  dead, 
and  his  mother  living  in  some  part  of  East  Tennessee ;  all  the 
men  were  from  that  part  of  the  country.  The  next  forenoon  I 
saw  the  Tennessee  and  Indiana  regiments  marching  down  the 
Avenue.  My  boy  was  with  the  former,  stepping  along  with  the 
rest.  There  were  many  other  boys  no  older.  I  stood  and  watch' d 
them  as  they  tramp'd  along  with  slow,  strong,  heavy,  regular 
steps.  There  did  not  appear  to  be  a  man  over  30  years  of  age, 
and  a  large  proportion  were  from  15  to  perhaps  22  or  23.  They 
had  all  the  look  of  veterans,  worn,  stain'd,  impassive,  and  a  cer- 
tain unbent,  lounging  gait,  carrying  in  addition  to  their  regular 
arms  and  knapsacks,  frequently  a  frying-pan,  broom,  &c.  They 
were  all  ot  pleasant  physiognomy;  no  refinement,  nor  blanch' d 
with  intellect,  but  as  my  eye  pick'd  them,  moving  along,  rank 
by  rank,  there  did  not  seem  to  be  a  single  repulsive,  brutal  or 
markedly  stupid  face  among  them. 

BURIAL  OF  A  LADY  NURSE. 

Here  is  an  incident  just  occurr'd  in  one  of  the  hospitals.  A 
lady  named  Miss  or  Mrs.  Billings,  who  has  long  been  a  practical 
friend  of  soldiers,  and  nurse  in  the  army,  and  had  become  at- 
tached to  it  in  a  way  that  no  one  can  realize  but  him  or  her  who 
has  had  experience,  was  taken  sick,  early  this  winter,  linger'd 
some  time,  and  finally  died  in  the  hospital.  It  was  her  request 
that  she  should  be^  buried  among  the  soldiers,  and  after  the  mili- 
tary method.  This  request  was  fully  carried  out.  Her  coffin  was 
carried  to  the  grave  by  soldiers,  with  the  usual  escort,  buried, 


SPECIMEN  DA  YS.  6 1 

and  a  salute  fired  over  the  grave.     This  was  at  Annapolis  a  few 
days  since. 

FEMALE  NURSES  FOR  SOLDIERS. 

There  are  many  women  in  one  position  or  another,  among  the 
hospitals,  mostly  as  nurses  ^here  in  Washington,  and  among  the 
military  stations ;  quite  a  number  of  them  young  ladies  acting  as 
volunteers.  They  are  a  help  in  certain  ways,  and  deserve  to  be 
mention'd  with  respect.  Then  it  remains  to  be  distinctly  said 
that  few  or  no  young  ladies,  under  the  irresistible  conventions  of 
society,  answer  the  practical  requirements  of  nurses  for  soldiers. 
Middle-aged  or  healthy  and  good  condition'd  elderly  women, 
mothers  of  children,  are  always  best.  Many  of  the  wounded 
must  be  handled.  A  hundred  things  which  cannot  be  gainsay'd, 
must  occur  and  must  be  done.  The  presence  of  a  good  middle- 
aged  or  elderly  woman,  the  magnetic  touch  of  hands,  the  ex- 
pressive features  of  the  mother,  the  silent  soothing  of  her  pres- 
ence, her  words,  her  knowledge  and  privileges  arrived  at  only 
through  having  had  children,  are  precious  and  final  qualifications. 
It  is  a  natural  faculty  that  is  required  ;  it  is  not  merely  having 
a  genteel  young  woman  at  a  table  in  a  ward.  One  of  the  finest 
nurses  I  met  was  a  red-faced  illiterate  old  Irish  woman ;  I  have 
seen  her  take  the  poor  wasted  naked  boys  so  tenderly  up  in  her 
arms.  There  are  plenty  of  excellent  clean  old  black  women  that 
would  make  tip-top  nurses. 

SOUTHERN  ESCAPEES. 

Feb.  2jy  '65. — I  saw  a  large  procession  of  young  men  from  the 
rebel  army,  (deserters  they  are  call'd,  but  the  usual  meaning  of 
the  word  does  not  apply  to  them,)  passing  the  Avenue  to-day. 
There  were  nearly  200,  come  up  yesterday  by  boat  from  James 
river.  I  stood  and  watch'd  them  as  they  shuffled  along,  in  a 
slow,  tired,  worn  sort  of  way;  a  large  proportion  of  light-hair'd, 
blonde,  light  gray-eyed  young  men  among  them.  Their  costumes 
had  a  dirt-stain'd  uniformity;  most  had  been  originally  gray; 
some  had  articles  of  our  uniform,  pants  on  one,  vest  or  coat  on 
another ;  I  think  they  were  mostly  Georgia  and  North  Carolina 
boys.  They  excited  little  or  no  attention.  As  I  stood  quite 
close  to  them,  several  good  looking  enough  youths,  (but  O  what 
a  tale  of  misery  their  appearance  told,)  nodded  or  just  spoke  to 
me,  without  doubt  divining  pity  and  fatherliness  out  of  my  face, 
for  my  heart  was  full  enough  of  it.  Several  of  the  couples  trudg'd 
along  with  their  arms  about  each  other,  some  probably  brothers, 
as  if  they  were  afraid  they  might  somehow  get  separated.  They 
nearly  all  look'd  what  one  might  call  simple,  yet  intelligent,  too. 
Some  had  pieces  of  old   carpet,  some  blankets,  and  others  old 


62 


SPECIMEN  DA  VS. 


bags  around  their  shoulders.  Some  of  them  here  and  there  had 
fine  faces,  still  it  was  a  procession  of  misery.  The  two  hundred 
had  with  them  about  half  a  dozen  arm'd  guards.  Along  this 
week  I  saw  some  such  procession,  more  or  less  in  numbers,  every- 
day, as  they  were  brought  up  by  the  boat.  The  government  does 
what  it  can  for  them,  and  sends  them  north  and  west. 

j?eb%  27. Some  three  or  four  hundred  more  escapees  from  the 

confederate  army  came  up  on  the  boat.  As  the  day  has  been 
very  pleasant  indeed,  (after  a  long  spell  of  bad  weather,)  I  have 
been  wandering  around  a  good  deal,  without  any  other  object 
than  to  be  out-doors  and  enjoy  it ;  have  met  these  escaped  men 
in  all  directions.  Their  apparel  is  the  same  ragged,  long-worn 
motley  as  before  described.  I  talk'd  with  a  number  of  the  men. 
Some  are  quite  bright  and  stylish,  for  all  their  poor  clothes — 
walking  with  an  air,  wearing  their  old  head-coverings  on  one 
side,  quite  saucily.  I  find  the  old,  unquestionable  proofs,  as  all 
along  the  past  four  years,  of  the  unscrupulous  tyranny  exercised 
by  the  secession  government  in  conscripting  the  common  people 
by  absolute  force  everywhere,  and  paying  no  attention  whatever 
to  the  men's  time  being  up — keeping  them  in  military  service 
just  the  same.  One  gigantic  young  fellow,  a  Georgian,  at  least 
six  feet  three  inches  high,  broad-sized  in  proportion,  attired  in 
the  dirtiest,  drab,  well-smear'd  rags,  tied  with  strings,  his  trou- 
sers at  the  knees  all  strips  and  streamers,  was  complacently  stand- 
ing eating  some  bread  and  meat.  He  appear'd  contented 
enough.  Then  a  few  minutes  after  I  saw  him  slowly  walking 
along.     It  was  plain  he  did  not  take  anything  to  heart. 

Feb.  28. — As  I  pass'd  the  military  headquarters  of  the  city, 
not  far  from  the  President's  house,  I  stopt  to  interview  some  of 
the  crowd  of  escapees  who  were  lounging  there.  In  appearance 
they  were  the  same  as  previously  mention'd.  Two  of  them,  one 
about  17,  and  the  other  perhaps  25  or  '6,  I  talk'd  with  some  time. 
They  were  from  North  Carolina,  born  and  rais'd  there,  and  had 
folks  there.  The  elder  had  been  in  the  rebel  service  four  years. 
He  was  first  conscripted  for  two  years.  He  was  then  kept  arbi- 
trarily in  the  ranks.  This  is  the  case  with  a  large  proportion  of 
the  secession  army.  There  was  nothing  downcast  in  these  young 
men's  manners;  the  younger  had  been  soldiering  about  a 
year ;  he  was  conscripted  ;  there  were  six  brothers  (all  the  boys 
of  the  family)  in  the  army,  part  of  them  as  conscripts,  part  as 
volunteers;  three  had  been  kill'd  ;  one  had  escaped  about  four 
months  ago,  and  now  this  one  had  got  away  ;  he  was  a  pleasant 
and  well-talking  lad,  with  the  peculiar  North  Carolina  idiom  (not 
at  all  disagreeable  to  my  ears.)  He  and  the  elder  one  were  of 
the  same  company,  and  escaped  together — and  wish'd  to  remain 


SPECIMEN  DA  VS.  63 

together.  They  thought  of  getting  transportation  away  to  Mis- 
souri, and  working  there  ;  but  were  not  sure  it  was  judicious.  I 
advised  them  rather  to  go  to  some  of  the  directly  northern  States, 
and  get  farm  work  for  the  present.  The  younger  had  made  six 
dollars  on  the  boat,  with  some  tobacco  he  brought ;  he  had 
three  and  a  half  left.  The  elder  had  nothing  ;  I  gave  him  a 
trifle.  Soon  after,  met  John  Wormley,  9th  Alabama,  a  West 
Tennessee  rais'd  boy,  parents  both  dead — had  the  look  of  one 
for  a  long  time  on  short  allowance — said  very  little — chew'd  to- 
bacco at  a  fearful  rate,  spitting  in  proportion — large  clear  dark- 
brown  eyes,  very  fine — didn't  know  what  to  make  of  me — told 
me  at  last  he  wanted  much  to  get  some  clean  underclothes,  and 
a  pair  of  decent  pants.  Didn't  care  about  coat  or  hat  fixings. 
Wanted  a  chance  to  wash  himself  well,  and  put  on  the  under- 
clothes. I  had  the  very  great  pleasure  of  helping  him  to  accom- 
plish all  those  wholesome  designs. 

March  1st. — Plenty  more  butternut  or  clay-color' d  escapees 
every  day.  About  160  came  in  to-day,  a  large  portion  South 
Carolinians.  They  generally  take  the  oath  of  allegiance,  and  are 
sent  north,  west,  or  extreme  south-west  if  they  wish.  Several  of 
them  told  me  that  the  desertions  in  their  army,  of  men  going 
home,  leave  or  no  leave,  are  far  more  numerous  than  their  deser- 
tions to  our  side.  I  saw  a  very  forlorn  looking  squad  of  about  a 
hundred,  late  this  afternoon,  on  their  way  to  the  Baltimore 
depot. 

THE  CAPITOL  BY  GAS-LIGHT. 

To-night  I  have  been  wandering  awhile  in  the  capitol,  which 
is  all  lit  up.  The  illuminated  rotunda  looks  fine.  I  like  to 
stand  aside  and  look  a  long,  long  while,  up  at  the  dome;  it  com- 
forts me  somehow.  The  House  and  Senate  were  both  in  session 
till  very  late.  I  look'd  in  upon  them,  but  only  a  few  moments; 
they  were  hard  at  work  on  tax  and  appropriation  bills.  I  wan- 
der'd  through  the  long  and  rich  corridors  and  apartments  under 
the  Senate ;  an  old  habit  of  mine,  former  winters,  and  now  more 
satisfaction  than  ever.  Not  many  persons  down  there,  occasion- 
ally a  flitting  figure  in  the  distance. 

THE  INAUGURATION. 
March  4. — The  President  very  quietly  rode  down  to  the  capi- 
tol in  his  own  carriage,  by  himself,  on  a  sharp  trot,  about  noon, 
either  because  he  wish'd  to  be  on  hand  to  sign  bills,  or  to  get 
rid  of  marching  in  line  with  the  absurd  procession,  the  muslin 
temple  of  liberty,  and  pasteboard  monitor.  I  saw  him  on  his 
return,  at  three  o'clock,  after  the  performance  was  over.  He 
was  in  his  plain  two-horse  barouche,  and  look'd  very  much  worn 


64 


SPECIMEN  DA  YS. 


and  tired ;  the  lines,  indeed,  of  vast  responsibilities,  intricate 
questions,  and  demands  of  life  and  death,  cut  deeper  than  ever 
upon  his  dark  brown  face ;  yet  all  the  old  goodness,  tenderness, 
sadness,  and  canny  shrewdness,  underneath  the  furrows.  (I  never 
see  that  man  without  feeling  that  he  is  one  to  become  personally 
attach'd  to,  for  his  combination  of  purest,  heartiest  tenderness, 
and  native  western  form  of  manliness.)  By  his  side  sat  his  little 
boy,  of  ten  years.  There  were  no  soldiers,  only  a  lot  of  civilians 
on  horseback,  with  huge  yellow  scarfs  over  their  shoulders,  riding 
around  the  carriage.  (At  the  inauguration  four  years  ago,  he 
rode  down  and  back  again  surrounded  by  a  dense  mass  of  arm'd 
cavalrymen  eight  deep,  with  drawn  sabres;  and  there  were  sharp- 
shooters station'd  at  every  corner  on  the  route.)  I  ought  to 
make  mention  of  the  closing  levee  of  Saturday  night  last.  Never 
before  was  such  a  compact  jam  in  front  of  the  White  House — all 
the  grounds  fill'd,  and  away  out  to  the  spacious  sidewalks.  I 
was  there,  as  I  took  a  notion  to  go — was  in  the  rush  inside  with 
the  crowd — surged  along  the  passage-ways,  the  blue  and  other 
rooms,  and  through  the  great  east  room.  Crowds  of  country 
people,  some  very  funny.  Fine  music  from  the  Marine  band, 
off  in  a  side  place.  I  saw  Mr.  Lincoln,  drest  all  in  black,  with 
white  kid  gloves  and  a  claw-hammer  coat,  receiving,  as  in  duty 
bound,  shaking  hands,  looking  very  disconsolate,  and  as  if  he 
would  give  anything  to  be  somewhere  else. 

ATTITUDE  OF  FOREIGN  GOVERNMENTS   DURING  THE  WAR. 

Looking  over  my  scraps,  I  find  I  wrote  the  following  during 
1864.  The  happening  to  our  America,  abroad  as  well  as  at  home, 
these  years,  is  indeed  most  strange.  The  democratic  republic 
has  paid  her  to-day  the  terrible  and  resplendent  compliment  of 
the  united  wish  of  all  the  nations  of  the  world  that  her  union 
should  be  broken,  her  future  cut  off,  and  that  she  should  be  com- 
pell'd  to  descend  to  the  level  of  kingdoms  and  empires  ordinarily 
great.  There  is  certainly  not  one  government  in  Europe  but  is 
now  watching  the  war  in  this  country,  with  the  ardent  prayer 
that  the  United  States  may  be  effectually  split,  crippled,  and  dis- 
member'd  by  it.  There  is  not  one  but  would  help  toward  that 
dismemberment,  if  it  dared.  I  say  such  is  the  ardent  wish  to-day 
of  England  and  of  France,  as  governments,  and  of  all  the  nations 
of  Europe,  as  governments.  I  think  indeed  it  is  to-day  the  real, 
heartfelt  wishfof  all  the  nations  of  the  world,  with  the  single  ex- 
ception of  Mexico— Mexico,  the  only  one  to  whom  we  have  ever 
really  done  wrong,  and  now  the  only  one  who  prays  for  us  and 
for  our  triumph,  with  genuine  prayer.  Is  it  not  indeed  strange? 
America,  made  up  of  all,  cheerfully  from  the  beginning  opening 


SPECIMEN  DA  YS.  65 

her  arms  to  all,  the  result  and  justifier  of  all,  of  Britain,  Ger- 
many, France  and  Spain — all  here — the  accepter,  the  friend, 
hope,  last  resource  and  general  house  of  all — she  who  has  harm'd 
none,  but  been  bounteous  to  so  many,  to  millions,  the  mother  of 
strangers  and  exiles,  all  nations — should  now  I  say  be  paid  this 
dread  compliment  of  general  governmental  fear  and  hatred.  Are 
we  indignant?  alarm'd?  Do  we  feel  jeopardized?  No;  help'd, 
braced,  concentrated,  rather.  We  are  all  too  prone  to  wander 
from  ourselves,  to  affect  Europe,  and  watch  her  frowns  and  smiles. 
We  need  this  hot  lesson  of  general  hatred,  and  henceforth  must 
never  forget  it.  Never  again  will  we  trust  the  moral  sense  nor 
abstract  friendliness  of  a  single  government  of  the  old  world. 

THE  WEATHER.— DOES  IT  SYMPATHIZE  WITH  THESE  TIMES? 

Whether  the  rains,  the  heat  and  cold,  and  what  underlies  them 
all,  are  affected  with  what  affects  man  in  masses,  and  follow  his 
play  of  passionate  action,  strain'd  stronger  than  usual,  and  on  a 
larger  scale  than  usual — whether  this,  or  no,  it  is  certain  that 
there  is  now,  and  has  been  for  twenty  months  or  more,  on  this 
American  continent  north,  many  a  remarkable,  many  an  unpre- 
cedented expression  of  the  subtile  world  of  air  above  us  and 
around  us.  There,  since  this  war,  and  the  wide  and  deep  na- 
tional agitation,  strange  analogies,  different  combinations,  a  dif- 
ferent sunlight,  or  absence  of  it ;  different  products  even  out  of 
the  ground.  After  every  great  battle,  a  great  storm.  Even  civic 
events  the  same.  On  Saturday  last,  a  forenoon  like  whirling 
demons,  dark,  with  slanting  rain,  full  of  rage  ;  and  then  the  after- 
noon, so  calm,  so  bathed  with  flooding  splendor  from  heaven's 
most  excellent  sun,  with  atmosphere  of  sweetness ;  so  clear,  it 
show'd  the  stars,  long,  long  before  they  were  due.  As  the  Presi- 
dent came  out  on  the  capitol  portico,  a  curious  little  white  cloud, 
the  only  one  in  that  part  of  the  sky,  appear' d  like  a  hovering 
bird,  right  over  him. 

Indeed,  the  heavens,  the  elements,  all  the  meteorological  in- 
fluences, have  run  riot  for  weeks  past.  Such  caprices,  abruptest 
alternation  of  frowns  and  beauty,  I  never  knew.  It  is  a  common 
remark  that  (as  last  summer  was  different  in  its  spells  of  intense 
heat  from  any  preceding  it,)  the  winter  just  completed  has  been 
without  parallel.  It  has  remain'd  so  down  to  the  hour  I  am 
writing.  Much  of  the  daytime  of  the  past  month  was  sulky,  with 
leaden  heaviness,  fog,  interstices  of  bitter  cold,  and  some  insane 
storms.  But  there  have  been  samples  of  another  description. 
Nor  earth  nor  sky  ever  knew  spectacles  of  superber  beauty  than 
some  of  the  nights  lately  here.  The  western  star,  Venus,  in  the 
earlier  hours  of  evening,  has  never  been  so  large,  so  clear ;  it 

6 


65  SPECIMEN  DA  YS. 

seems  as  if  it  told  something,  as  if  it  held  rapport  indulgent 
with  humanity,  with  us  Americans.  Five  or  six  nights  since,  it 
hung  close  by  the  moon,  then  a  little  past  its  first  quarter.  The 
star  was  wonderful,  the  moon  like  a  young  mother.  The  sky, 
dark  blue,  the" transparent  night,  the  planets,  the  moderate  west 
wind,  the  elastic  temperature,  the  miracle  of  that  great  star,  and 
the  young  and  swelling  moon  swimming  in  the  west,  suffused  the 
soul.  Then  I  heard,  slow  and  clear,  the  deliberate  notes  of  a 
bugle  come  up  out  of  the  silence,  sounding  so  good  through  the 
night's  mystery,  no  hurry,  but  firm  and  faithful,  floating  along, 
rising,  falling  leisurely,  with  here  and  there  a  long-drawn  note  ; 
the  bugle,  well  play'd,  sounding  tattoo,  in  one  of  the  army  hos- 
pitals near  here,  where  the  wounded  (some  of  them  personally 
so  dear  to  me,)  are  lying  in  their  cots,  and  many  a  sick  boy  come 
down  to  the  war  from  Illinois,  Michigan,  Wisconsin,  Iowa,  and 

the  rest. 

INAUGURATION  BALL. 

March  6. — I  have  been  up  to  look  at  the  dance  and  supper- 
rooms,  for  the  inauguration  ball  at  the  Patent  office ;  and  I  could 
not  help  thinking,  what  a  different  scene  they  presented  to  my 
view  a  while  since,  fill'd  with  a  crowded  mass  of  the  worst 
wounded  of  the  war,  brought  in  from  second  Bull  Run,  Antietam, 
and  Fredericksburgh.  To-night,  beautiful  women,  perfumes,  the 
violins'  sweetness,  the  polka  and  the  waltz;  then  the  amputation, 
the  blue  face,  the  groan,  the  glassy  eye  of  the  dying,  the  clotted 
rag,  the  odor  of  wounds  and  blood,  and  many  a  mother's  son 
amid  strangers,  passing  away  untended  there,  (for  the  crowd  of 
the  badly  hurt  was  great,  and  much  for  nurse  to  do,  and  much 
for  surgeon.) 

SCENE  AT  THE  CAPITOL. 

I  must  mention  a  strange  scene  at  the  capitol,  the  hall  of  Rep- 
resentatives, the  morning  of  Saturday  last,  (March  4th.)  The 
day  just  dawn'd,  but  in  half-darkness,  everything  dim,  leaden, 
and  soaking.  In  that  dim  light,  the  members  nervous  from  long 
drawn  duty,  exhausted,  some  asleep,  and  many  half  asleep.  The 
gas-light,  mix'd  with  the  dingy  day-break,  produced  an  un- 
earthly effect.  The  poor  little  sleepy,  stumbling  pages,  the  smell 
of  the  hall,  the  members  with  heads  leaning  on  their  desks,  the 
sounds  of  the  voices  speaking,  with  unusual  intonations — the 
general  moral  atmosphere  also  of  the  close  of  this  important  ses- 
sion— the  strong  hope  that  the  war  is  approaching  its  close — the 
tantalizing  dread  lest  the  hope  may  be  a  false  one — the  grandeur 
of  the  hall  itself,  with  its  effect  of  vast  shadows  up  toward  the 
panels  and  spaces  over  the  galleries — all  made  a  mark'd  combi- 
nation. 


SPECIMEN  DAYS.  67 

In  the  midst  of  this,  with  the  suddenness  of  a  thunderbolt, 
burst  one  of  the  most  angry  and  crashing  storms  of  rain  and  hail 
ever  heard.  It  beat  like  a  deluge  on  the  heavy  glass  roof  of  the 
hall,  and  the  wind  literally  howl'd  and  roar'd.  For  a  moment, 
(and  no  wonder,)  the  nervous  and  sleeping  Representatives  were 
thrown  into  confusion.  The  slumberers  awaked  with  fear,  some 
started  for  the  doors,  some  look'd  up  with  blanch'd  cheeks  and 
lips  to  the  roof,  and  the  little  pages  began  to  cry  ;  it  was  a  scene. 
But  it  was  over  almost  as  soon  as  the  drowsied  men  were  actually 
awake.  They  recover'd  themselves ;  the  storm  raged  on,  beat- 
ing, dashing,  and  with  loud  noises  at  times.  But  the  House  went 
ahead  with  its  business  then,  I  think,  as  calmly  and  with  as  much 
deliberation  as  at  any  time  in  its  career.  Perhaps  the  shock  did 
it  good.  (One  is  not  without  impression,  after  all,  amid  these 
members  of  Congress,  of  both  the  Houses,  that  if  the  flat  routine 
of  their  duties  should  ever  be  broken  in  upon  by  some  great 
emergency  involving  real  danger,  and  calling  for  first-class  per- 
sonal qualities,  those  qualities  would  be  found  generally  forth- 
coming, and  from  men  not  now  credited  with  them.) 

A  YANKEE  ANTIQUE. 

March  27,  1865. — Sergeant  Calvin  F.  Harlowe,  company  C, 
29th  Massachusetts,  3d  brigade,  1st  division,  Ninth  corps — a 
mark'd  sample  of  heroism  and  death,  (some  may  say  bravado, 
but  I  say  heroism,  of  grandest,  oldest  order) — in  the  late  attack 
by  the  rebel  troops,  and  temporary  capture  by  them,  of  fort 
Steadman,  at  night.  The  fort  was  surprised  at  dead  of  night. 
Suddenly  awaken'd  from  their  sleep,  and  rushing  from  their  tents, 
Harlowe,  with  others,  found  himself  in  the  hands  of  the  secesh 
— they  demanded  his  surrender — he  answer'd,  Never  while  I  live. 
(Of  course  it  was  useless.  The  others  surrender'd ;  the  odds 
were  too  great.)  Again  he  was  ask'd  to  yield,  this  time  by  a 
rebel  captain.  Though  surrounded,  and  quite  calm,  he  again 
refused,  call'd  sternly  to  his  comrades  to  fight  on,  and  himself 
attempted  to  do  so.  The  rebel  captain  then  shot  him — but  at 
the  same  instant  he  shot  the  captain.  Both  fell  together  mor- 
tally wounded.  Harlowe  died  almost  instantly.  The  rebels 
were  driven  out  in  a  very  short  time.  The  body  was  buried  next 
day,  but  soon  taken  up  and  sent  home,  (Plymouth  county,  Mass.) 
Harlowe  was  only  22  years  of  age — was  a  tall,  slim,  dark-hair'd, 
blue-eyed  young  man — had  come  out  originally  with  the  29th ; 
and  that  is  the  way  he  met  his  death,  after  four  years'  campaign. 
He  was  in  the  Seven  Days  fight  before  Richmond,  in  second  Bull 
Run,  Antietam,  first  Fredericksburgh,  Vicksburgh,  Jackson,  Wil- 
derness, and  the  campaigns  following — was  as  good  a  soldier  as 


63  SPECIMEN  DA  YS. 

ever  wore  the  blue,  and  every  old  officer  in  the  regiment  will  bear 
that  testimony.  Though  so  young,  and  in  a  common  rank,  he 
had  a  spirit  as  resolute  and  brave  as  any  hero  in  the  books,  an- 
cient or  modern — It  was  too  great  to  say  the  words  "I  surren- 
der "—and  so  he  died.  (When  I  think  of  such  things,  knowing 
them  well,  all  the  vast  and  complicated  events  of  the  war,  on 
which  history  dwells  and  makes  its  volumes,  fall  aside,  and  for 
the  moment  at  any  rate  I  see  nothing  but  young  Calvin  Har- 
lowe's  figure  in  the  night,  disdaining  to  surrender.) 

WOUNDS  AND  DISEASES. 
The  war  is  over,  but  the  hospitals  are  fuller  than  ever,  from 
former  and  current  cases.  A  large  majority  of  the  wounds  are 
in  the  arms  and  legs.  But  there  is  every  kind  of  wound,  in  every 
part  of  the  body.  I  should  say  of  the  sick,  from  my  observa- 
tion, that  the  prevailing  maladies  are  typhoid  fever  and  the  camp 
fevers  generally,  diarrhoea,  catarrhal  affections  and  bronchitis, 
rheumatism  and  pneumonia.  These  forms  of  sickness  lead ;  all 
the  rest  follow.  There  are  twice  as  many  sick  as  there  are  wounded. 
The  deaths  range  from  seven  to  ten  per  cent,  of  those  under 
treatment 

DEATH  OF  PRESIDENT  LINCOLN. 

April  16,  '65. — I  find  in  my  notes  of  the  time,  this  passage  on 
the  death  of  Abraham  Lincoln:  He  leaves  for  America's  history 
and  biography,  so  far,  not  only  its  most  dramatic  reminiscence — 
he  leaves,  in  my  opinion,  the  greatest,  best,  most  characteristic, 
artistic,  moral  personality.  Not  but  that  he  had  faults,  and 
show'd  them  in  the  Presidency ;  but  honesty,  goodness,  shrewd- 
ness, conscience,  and  (a  new  virtue,  unknown  to  other  lands,  and 
hardly  yet  really  known  here,  but  the  foundation  and  tie  of  all, 
as  the  future  will  grandly  develop,)  Unionism,  in  its  truest  and 
amplest  sense,  form'd  the  hard-pan  of  his  character.  These  he 
seal'd  with  his  life.  The  tragic  splendor  of  his  death,  purging, 
illuminating  all,  throws  round  his  form,  his  head,  an  aureole  that 
will  remain  and  will  grow  brighter  through  time,  while  history 
lives,  and  love  of  country  lasts.  By  many  has  this  Union  been 
help'd ;  but  if  one  name,  one  man,  must  be  pick'd  out,  he,  most 
of  all,  is  the  conservator  of  it,  to  the  future.  He  was  assassi- 
nated— but  the  Union  is  not  assassinated — ga  ira  !  One  falls, 
and  another  falls.  The  soldier  drops,  sinks  like  a  wave — but  the 
ranks  of  the  ocean  eternally  press  on.     Death  does  its  work,  ob- 

*  In  the  U.  S.  Surgeon-General's  office  since,  there  is  a  formal  record  and 
treatment  of  253,142  cases  of  wounds  by  government  surgeons.  What  must 
have  been  the  number  unofficial,  indirect — to  say  nothing  of  the  Southern 
armies  ? 


SPECIMEN  DA  YS. 


69 


literates  a  hundred,  a  thousand — President,  general,  captain,  pri- 
vate— but  the  Nation  is  immortal. 

SHERMAN'S  ARMY'S  JUBILATION— ITS  SUDDEN  STOPPAGE. 
When  Sherman's  armies,  (long  after  they  left  Atlanta,)  were 
marching  through  South  and  North  Carolina — after  leaving  Sa- 
vannah, the  news  of  Lee's  capitulation  having  been  receiv'd — 
the  men  never  mov'd  a  mile  without  from  some  part  of  the  line 
sending  up  continued,  inspiriting  shouts.  At  intervals  all  day 
long  sounded  out  the  wild  music  of  those  peculiar  army  cries. 
They  would  be  commenc'd  by  one  regiment  or  brigade,  imme- 
diately taken  up  by  others,  and  at  length  whole  corps  and  armies 
would  join  in  these  wild  triumphant  choruses.  It  was  one  of  the 
characteristic  expressions  of  the  western  troops,  and  became  a 
habit,  serving  as  a  relief  and  outlet  to  the  men — a  vent  for  their 
feelings  of  victory,  returning  peace,  &c.  Morning,  noon,  and 
afternoon,  spontaneous,  for  occasion  or  without  occasion,  these 
huge,  strange  cries,  differing  from  any  other,  echoing  through 
the  open  air  for  many  a  mile,  expressing  youth,  joy,  wildness, 
irrepressible  strength,  and  the  ideas  of  advance  and  conquest, 
sounded  along  the  swamps  and  uplands  of  the  South,  floating  to 
the  skies.  (*  There  never  were  men  that  kept  in  better  spirits  in 
danger  or  defeat — what  then  could  they  do  in  victory  ?' — said 
one  of  the  15th  corps  to  me,  afterwards.)  This  exuberance  con- 
tinued till  the  armies  arrived  at  Raleigh.  There  the  news  of  the 
President's  murder  was  receiv'd.  Then  no  more  shouts  or  yells, 
for  a  week.  All  the  marching  was  comparatively  muffled.  It 
was  very  significant — hardly  a  loud  word  or  laugh  in  many  of  the 
regiments.     A  hush  and  silence  pervaded  all. 

NO  GOOD  PORTRAIT  OF  LINCOLN. 
Probably  the  reader  has  seen  physiognomies  (often  old  farmers, 
sea-captains,  and  such)  that,  behind  their  homeliness,  or  even 
ugliness,  held  superior  points  so  subtle,  yet  so  palpable,  making 
the  real  life  of  their  faces  almost  as  impossible  to  depict  as  a  wild 
perfume  or  fruit-taste,  or  a  passionate  tone  of  the  living  voice — 
and  such  was  Lincoln's  face,  the  peculiar  color,  the  lines  of  it, 
the  eyes,  mouth,  expression.  Of  technical  beauty  it  had  noth- 
ing— but  to  the  eye  of  a  great  artist  it  furnished  a  rare  study,  a 
feast  and  fascination.  The  current  portraits  are  all  failures — 
most  of  them  caricatures. 

RELEAS'D  UNION  PRISONERS  FROM  SOUTH. 
The  releas'd  prisoners  of  war  are  now  coming  up  from  the 
southern  prisons.     I  have  seen  a  number  of  them.     The  sight  is 
worse  than  any  sight  of  battle-fields,  or  any  collection  of  wounded, 


7o  SPECIMEN  DA  YS. 

even  the  bloodiest.  There  was,  (as  a  sample,)  one  large  boat 
load,  of  several  hundreds,  brought  about  the  25th,  to  Annapo- 
lis ;  and  out  of  the  whole  number  only  three  individuals  were 
able  to  walk  from  the  boat.  The  rest  were  carried  ashore  and 
laid  down  in  one  place  or  another.  Can  those  be  men — those 
little  livid  brown,  ash-streak'd,  monkey-looking  dwarfs? — are 
they  really  not  mummied,  dwindled  corpses?  They  lay  there, 
most  of  them,  quite  still,  but  with  a  horrible  look  in  their  eyes 
and  skinny  lips  (often  with  not  enough  flesh  on  the  lips  to  cover 
their  teeth.)  Probably  no  more  appalling  sight  was  ever  seen  on 
this  earth.  (There  are  deeds,  crimes,  that  may  be  forgiven ;  but 
this  is  not  among  them.  It  steeps  its  perpetrators  in  blackest, 
escapeless,  endless  damnation.  Over  50,000  have  been  compell'd 
to  die  the  death  of  starvation — reader,  did  you  ever  try  to  realize 
what  starvation  actually  is  ? — in  those  prisons — and  in  a  land  of 
plenty.)  An  indescribable  meanness,  tyranny,  aggravating 
course  of  insults,  almost  incredible — was  evidently  the  rule  of 
treatment  through  all  the  southern  military  prisons.  The  dead 
there  are  not  to  be  pitied  as  much  as  some  of  the  living  that  come 
from  there — if  they. can  be  call'd  living — many  of  them  are  men- 
tally imbecile,  and  will  never  recuperate.* 

*  From  a  review  of  " Andersonville,  A   Story  of  Southern  Military  Prisons," 
published  serially  in  the  "  Toledo  Blade,"  in  1&7Q,  and  afterwards  in  book  form. 

"  There  is  a  deep  fascination  in  the  subject  of  Andersonville — for  that  Gol- 
gotha, in  which  lie  the  whitening  bones  of  13,000  gallant  young  men,  repre- 
sents the  dearest  and  costliest  sacrifice  of  the  war  for  the  preservation  of  our 
national  unity.  It  is  a  type,  too,  of  its  class.  Its  more  than  hundred  heca- 
tombs of  dead  represent  several  times  that  number  of  their  brethren,  for 
whom  the  prison  gates  of  Belle  Isle,  Danville,  Salisbury,  Florence,  Columbia, 
and  Cahaba  open'd  only  in  eternity.  There  are  few  families  in  the  North 
who  have  not  at  least  one  dear  relative  or  friend  among  these  60,000  whose 
sad  fortune  it  was  to  end  their  service  for  the  Union  by  lying  down  and  dying 
for  it  in  a  southern  prison  pen.  The  manner  of  their  death,  the  horrors  that 
cluster'd  thickly  around  every  moment  of  their  existence,  the  loyal,  unfalter- 
ing steadfastness  with  which  they  endured  all  that  fate  had  brought  them,  has 
never  been  adequately  told.  It  was  not  with  them  as  with  their  comrades  in 
the  field,  whose  every  act  was  perform'd  in  the  presence  of  those  whose  duty 
it  was  to  observe  such  matters  and  report  them  to  the  world.  Hidden  from 
the  view  of  their  friends  in  the  north  by  the  impenetrable  veil  which  the  mili- 
tary operations  of  the  rebels  drew  around  the  so-called  confederacy,  the  people 
knew  next  to  nothing  of  their  career  or  their  sufferings.  Thousands  died  there 
less  heeded  even  than  the  hundreds  who  perish'd  on  the  battle-field.  Grant  did 
not  lose  as  many  men  kill'd  outright,  in  the  terrible  campaign  from  the  Wil- 
derness to  the  James  river — 43  days  of  desperate  fighting — as  died  in  July  and 
August  at  Andersonville.  Nearly  twice  as  many  died  in  that  prison  as  fell 
from  the  day  that  Grant  cross'd  the  Rapidan,  till  he  settled  down  in  the 
trenches  before  Petersburg.  More  than  four  times  as  many  Union  dead  lie 
under  the  solemn  soughing  pines  about  that  forlorn  little  village  in  southern 
Georgia,  than  mark  the  course  of  Sherman  from  Chattanooga  to  Atlanta.   The 


SPECIMEN  DA  VS.  7 1 

DEATH  OF  A  PENNSYLVANIA  SOLDIER. 
Frank  H.  Irwin,  company  E,  93d  Pennsylvania — died  May  1, 
'65 — My  letter  to  his  mother. — Dear  madam  :  No  doubt  you  and 
Frank's  friends  have  heard  the  sad  fact  of  his  death  in  hospital 
here,  through  his  uncle,  or  the  lady  from  Baltimore,  who  took 
his  things.  (I  have  not  seem  them,  only  heard  of  them  visiting 
Frank.)  I  will  write  you  a  few  lines — as  a  casual  friend  that  sat 
by  his  death-bed.  Your  son,  corporal  Frank  H.  Irwin,  was 
wounded  near  fort  Fisher,  Virginia,  March  25th,  1865 — the  wound 
was  in  the  left  knee,  pretty  bad.  He  was  sent  up  to  Washing- 
ton, was  receiv'd  in  ward  C,  Armory-square  hospital,  March  28th — 
the  wound  became  worse,  and  on  the  4th  of  April  the  leg  was 
amputated  a  little  above  the  knee — the  operation  was  perform'd 
by  Dr.  Bliss,  one  of  the  best  surgeons  in  the  army — he  did  the 
whole  operation  himself — there  was  a  good  deal  of  bad  matter 
gather'd — the  bullet  was  found  in  the  knee.  For  a  couple  of 
weeks  afterwards  he  was  doing  pretty  well.  I  visited  and  sat  by 
him  frequently,  as  he  was  fond  of  having  me.     The  last  ten  or 

nation  stands  aghast  at  the  expenditure  of  life  which  attended  the  two  bloody 
campaigns  of  1864,  which  virtually  crush'd  the  confederacy,  but  no  one  re- 
members that  more  Union  soldiers  died  in  the  rear  of  the  rebel  lines  than 
were  kill'd  in  the  front  of  them.  The  great  military  events  which  stamp'd 
out  the  rebellion  drew  attention  away  from  the  sad  drama  which  starvation 
and  disease  play' d  in  those  gloomy  pens  in  the  far  recesses  of  sombre  southern 
forests." 

From  a  letter  of  "  Johnny  Bouquet,"  in  N.  Y.  Tribune,  March  27,  '81. 

"I  visited  at  Salisbury,  N.  C,  the  prison  pen  or  the  site  of  it,  from  which 
nearly  12,000  victims  of  southern  politicians  were  buried,  being  confined  in  a 
pen  without  shelter,  exposed  to  all  the  elements  could  do,  to  all  the  disease 
herding  animals  together  could  create,  and  to  all  the  starvation  and  cruelty  an 
incompetent  and  intense  caitiff  government  could  accomplish.  From  the  con- 
versation and  almost  from  the  recollection  of  the  northern  people  this  place 
has  dropp'd,  but  not  so  in  the  gossip  of  the  Salisbury  people,  nearly  all  of 
whom  say  that  the  half  was  never  told ;  that  such  was  the  nature  of  habitual 
outrage  here  that  when  Federal  prisoners  escaped  the  townspeople  harbor'd 
them  in  their  barns,  afraid  the  vengeance  of  God  would  fall  on  them,  to  de- 
liver even  their  enemies  back  to  such  cruelty.  Said  one  old  man  at  the  Boy- 
den  House,  who  join'd  in  the  conversation  one  evening:  'There  were  often 
men  buried  out  of  that  prison  pen  still  alive.  I  have  the  testimony  of  a  sur- 
geon that  he  has  seen  them  pull'd  out  of  the  dead  cart  with  their  eyes  open 
and  taking  notice,  but  too  weak  to  lift  a  finger.  There  was  not  the  least  ex- 
cuse for  such  treatment,  as  the  confederate  government  had  seized  every  saw- 
mill in  the  region,  and  could  just  as  well  have  put  up  shelter  for  these  pris- 
oners as  not,  wood  being  plentiful  here.  It  will  be  h-ard  to  make  any  honest 
man  in  Salisbury  say  that  there  was  the  slightest  necessity  for  those  prisoners 
having  to  live  in  old  tents,  caves  and  holes  half-full  of  water.  Representa- 
tions were  made  to  the  Davis  government  against  the  officers  in  charge  of  it, 
but  no  attention  was  paid  to  them.  Promotion  was  the  punishment  for  cruelty 
there.  The  inmates  were  skeletons.  Hell  could  have  no  terrors  for  any  man 
who  died  there,  except  the  inhuman  keepers.' " 


72  SPECIMEN  DA  KS*. 

twelve  days  of  April  I  saw  that  his  case  was  critical.  He  pre- 
viously had  some  fever,  with  cold  spells.  The  last  week  in  April 
he  was  much  of  the  time  flighty — but  always  mild  and  gentle. 
He  died  first  of  May.  The  actual  cause  of  death  was  pyaemia, 
(the  absorption  of  the  matter  in  the  system  instead  of  its  dis- 
charge.) Frank,  as  far  as  I  saw,  had  everything  requisite  in  sur- 
gical treatment,  nursing,  &c.  He  had  watches  much  of  the  time. 
He  was  so  good  and  well-behaved  and  affectionate,  I  myself  liked 
him  very  much.  I  was  in  the  habit  of  coming  in  afternoons  and 
sitting  by  him,  and  soothing  him,  and  he  liked  to  have  me — liked 
to  put  his  arm  out  and  lay  his  hand  on  my  knee — would  keep  it 
so  a  long  while.  Toward  the  last  he  was  more  restless  and  flighty 
at  night — often  fancied  himself  with  his  regiment — by  his  talk 
sometimes  seem'd  as  if  his  feelings  were  hurt  by  being  blamed  by 
his  officers  for  something  he  was  entirely  innocent  of — said,  "I 
never  in  my  life  was  thought  capable  of  such  a  thing,  and  never 
was."  At  other  times  he  would  fancy  himself  talking  as  it  seem'd 
to  children  or  such  like,  his  relatives  I  suppose,  and  giving  them 
good  advice ;  would  talk  to  them  a  long  while.  All  the  time  he 
was  out  of  his  head  not  one  single  bad  word  or  idea  escaped  him. 
It  was  remark' d  that  many  a  man's  conversation  in  his  senses 
was  not  half  as  good  as  Frank's  delirium.  He  seem'd  quite 
willing  to  die — he  had  become  very  weak  and  had  suffer'd  a  good 
deal,  and  was  perfectly  resign'd,  poor  boy.  I  do  not  know  his 
past  life,  but  I  feel  as  if  it  must  have  been  good.  At  any  rate 
what  I  saw  of  him  here,  under  the  most  trying  circumstances, 
with  a  painful  wound,  and  among  strangers,  I  can  say  that  he  be- 
haved so  brave,  so  composed,  and  so  sweet  and  affectionate,  it 
could  not  be  surpass'd.  And  now  like  many  other  noble  and 
good  men,  after  serving  his  country  as  a  soldier,  he  has  yielded 
up  his  young  life  at  the  very  outset  in  her  service.  Such  things 
are  gloomy — yet  there  is  a  text,  "  God  doeth  all  things  well  " — 
the  meaning  of  which,  after  due  time,  appears  to  the  soul. 

I  thought  perhaps  a  few  words,  though  from  a  stranger,  about 
your  son,  from  one  who  was  with  him  at  the  last,  might  be  worth 
while — for  I  loved  the  young  man,  though  I  but  saw  him  imme- 
diately to  lose  him.  I  am  merely  a  friend  visiting  the  hospitals 
occasionally  to  cheer  the  wounded  and  sick.  W.  W. 

THE  ARMIES  RETURNING. 

May  y. — Sunday. — To-day  as  I  was  walking  a  mile  or  two  south 
of  Alexandria,  I  fell  in  with  several  large  squads  of  the  returning 
Western  army,  {Sherman' s  men  as  they  call'd  themselves)  about 
a  thousand  in  all,  the  largest  portion  of  them  half  sick,  some 
convalescents,  on  their  way  to  a  hospital  camp.  *  These  fragmen- 


SPECIMEN  DA  VS. 


13 


tary  excerpts,  with  the  unmistakable  Western  physiognomy  and 
idioms,  crawling  along  slowly — after  a  great  campaign,  blown 
this  way,  as  it  were,  out  of  their  latitude — I  mark'd  with  curi- 
osity, and  talk'd  with  off  and  on  for  over  an  hour.  Here  and 
there  was  one  very  sick;  but  all  were  able  to  walk,  except  some 
of  the  last,  who  had  given  out,  and  were  seated  on  the  ground, 
faint  and  despondent.  These  I  tried  to  cheer,  told  them  the 
camp  they  were  to  reach  was  only  a  little  way  further  over  the 
hill,  and  so  got  them  up  and  started,  accompanying  some  of  the 
worst  a  little  way,  and  helping  them,  or  putting  them  under  the 
support  of  stronger  comrades. 

May  21. — Saw  General  Sheridan  and  his  cavalry  to-day ;  a 
strong,  attractive  sight ;  the  men  were  mostly  young,  (a  few  mid- 
dle-aged,) superb-looking  fellows,  brown,  spare,  keen,  with  well- 
worn  clothing,  many  with  pieces  of  water-proof  cloth  around 
their  shoulders,  hanging  down.  They  dash'd  along  pretty  fast, 
in  wide  close  ranks,  all  spatter'd  with  mud ;  no  holiday  soldiers; 
brigade  after  brigade.  I  could  have  watch' d  for  a  week.  Sheri- 
dan stood  on  a  balcony,  under  a  big  tree,  coolly  smoking  a  cigar. 
His  looks  and  manner  impress' d  me  favorably. 

May  22. — Have  been  taking  a  walk  along  Pennsylvania  avenue 
and  Seventh  street  north.  The  city  is  full  of  soldiers,  running 
around  loose.  Officers  everywhere,  of  all  grades.  All  have  the 
weather-beaten  look  of  practical  service.  It  is  a  sight  I  never 
tire  of.  All  the  armies  are  now  here  (or  portions  of  them,)  for 
to-morrow's  review.  You  see  them  swarming  like  bees  every- 
where. 

THE  GRAND  REVIEW. 

For  two  days  now  the  broad  spaces  of  Pennsylvania  avenue 
along  to  Treasury  hill,  and  so  by  detour  around  to  the  Presi- 
dent's house,  and  so  up  to  Georgetown,  and  across  the  aque- 
duct bridge,  have  been  alive  with  a  magnificent  sight,  the  return- 
ing armies.  In  their  wide  ranks  stretching  clear  across  the 
Avenue,  I  watch  them  march  or  ride  along,  at  a  brisk  pace, 
through  two  whole  days — infantry,  cavalry,  artillery — some  200,- 
000  men.  Some  days  afterwards  one  or  two  other  corps ;  and 
then,  still  afterwards,  a  good  part  of  Sherman's  immense  army, 
brought  up  from  Charleston,  Savannah,  &c. 

WESTERN  SOLDIERS. 

May  26-7. — The  streets,  the  public  buildings  and  grounds  of 
Washington,  still  swarm  with  soldiers  from  Illinois,  Indiana, 
Ohio,  Missouri,  Iowa,  and  all  the  Western  States.  I  am  contin- 
ually meeting  and  talking  with  them.  They  often  speak  to  me 
first,  and  always  show  great  sociability,  and  glad  to  have  a  good 

7 


74  SPECIMEN  DA  YS. 

interchange  of  chat.  These  Western  soldiers  are  more  slow  in 
their  movements,  and  in  their  intellectual  quality  also  ;  have  no 
extreme  alertness.  They  are  larger  in  size,  have  a  more  serious 
physiognomy,  are  continually  looking  at  you  as  they  pass  in  the 
street.  They  are  largely  animal,  and  handsomely  so.  During 
the  war  I  have  been  at  times  with  the  Fourteenth,  Fifteenth, 
Seventeenth,  and  Twentieth  Corps.  I  always  feel  drawn  toward 
the  men,  and  like  their  personal  contact  when  we  are  crowded 
close  together,  as  frequently  these  days  in  the  street-cars.  They 
all  think  the  world  of  General  Sherman  ;  call  him  "  old  Bill," 
or  sometimes  "  uncle  Billy." 

A  SOLDIER  ON  LINCOLN. 

May  28. — As  I  sat  by  the  bedside  of  a  sick  Michigan  soldier 
in  hospital  to-day,  a  convalescent  from  the  adjoining  bed  rose 
and  came  to  me,  and  presently  we  began  talking,  He  was  a 
middle-aged  man,  belonged  to  the  2d  Virginia  regiment,  but 
lived  in  Racine,  Ohio,  and  had  a  family  there.  He  spoke  of 
President  Lincoln,  and  said  :  "  The  war  is  over,  and  many  are 
lost.  And  now  we  have  lost  the  best,  the  fairest,  the  truest  man 
in  America.  Take  him  altogether,  he  was  the  best  man  this 
country  ever  produced.  It  was  quite  a  while  I  thought  very  dif- 
ferent; but  some  time  before  the  murder,  that's  the  way  I  have 
seen  it."  There  was  deep  earnestness  in  the  soldier.  (I  found 
upon  further  talk  he  had  known  Mr.  Lincoln  personally,  and 
quite  closely,  years  before.)  He  was  a  veteran  ;  was  now  in  the 
fifth  year  of  his  service ;  was  a  cavalry  man,  and  had  been  in 
a  good  deal  of  hard  fighting. 

TWO  BROTHERS,  ONE  SOUTH,  ONE  NORTH. 

May  28-9. — I  staid  to-night  a  long  time  by  the  bedside  of  a 
new  patient,  a  young  Baltimorean,  aged  about  19  years,  W.  S.  P., 
(2d  Maryland,  southern,)  very  feeble,  right  leg  amputated,  can't 
sleep  hardly  at  all — has  taken  a  great  deal  of  morphine,  which, 
as  usual,  is  costing  more  than  it  comes  to.  Evidently  very  in- 
telligent and  well  bred — very  affectionate — held  on  to  my  hand, 
and  put  it  by  his  face,  not  willing  to  let  me  leave.  As  I  was 
lingering,  soothing  him  in  his  pain,  he  says  to  me  suddenly,  "  I 
hardly  think  you  know  who  I  am — I  don't  wish  to  impose  upon 
you — I  am  a  rebel  soldier. ' '  I  said  I  did  not  know  that,  but  it  made 
no  difference.  Visiting  him  daily  for  about  two  weeks  after  that, 
while  he  lived,  (death  had  mark'd  him,  and  he  was  quite  alone,) 
I  loved  him  much,  always  kiss'd  him,  and  he  did  me.  In  an  ad- 
joining ward  I  found  his  brother,  an  officer  of  rank,  a  Union  sol- 
dier, a  brave  and  religious  man,  (Col.  Clifton  K.  Prentiss,  sixth 


SPECIMEN  DA  VS.  75 

Maryland  infantry,  Sixth  corps,  wounded  in  one  of  the  engage- 
ments at  Petersburgh,  April  2 — linger'd,  suffer'd  much,  died  in 
Brooklyn,  Aug.  20,  '65.)  It  was  in  the  same  battle  both  were 
hit.  One  was  a  strong  Unionist,  the  other  Secesh  ;  both  fought 
on  their  respective  sides,  both  badly  wounded,  and  both  brought 
together  here  after  a  separation  of  four  years.     Each  died  for  his 

cause. 

SOME  SAD  CASES  YET. 

May  31. — James  H.  Williams,  aged  21,  3d  Virginia  cavalry. — 
About  as  mark'd  a  case  of  a  strong  man  brought  low  by  a  com- 
plication of  diseases,  (laryngitis,  fever,  debility  and  diarrhoea,) 
as  I  have  ever  seen — has  superb  physique,  remains  swarthy  yet, 
and  flushed  and  red  with  fever — is  altogether  flighty — flesh  of  his 
great  breast  and  arms  tremulous,  and  pulse  pounding  away  with 
treble  quickness — lies  a  good  deal  of  the  time  in  a  partial  sleep, 
but  with  low  muttering  and  groans — a  sleep  in  which  there  is  no 
rest.  Powerful  as  he  is,  and  so  young,  he  will  not  be  able  to  stand 
many  more  days  of  the  strain  and  sapping  heat  of  yesterday 
and  to-day.  His  throat  is  in  a  bad  way,  tongue  and  lips  parch'd. 
When  I  ask  him  how  he  feels,  he  is  able  just  to  articulate,  "  I 
feel  pretty  bad  yet,  old  man,"  and  looks  at  me  with  his  great 
bright  eyes.     Father,  John  Williams,  Millensport,  Ohio. 

June  p-10. — I  have  been  sitting  late  to-night  by  the  bedside  of 
a  wounded  captain,  a  special  friend  of  mine,  lying  with  a  painful 
fracture  of  left  leg  in  one  of  the  hospitals,  in  a  large  ward  par- 
tially vacant.  The  lights  were  put  out,  all  but  a  little  candle,  far 
from  where  I  sat.  The  full  moon  shone  in  through  the  windows, 
making  long,  slanting  silvery  patches  on  the  floor.  All  was  still, 
my  friend  too  was  silent,  but  could  not  sleep ;  so  I  sat  there  by 
him,  slowly  wafting  the  fan,  and  occupied  with  the  musings  that 
arose  out  of  the  scene,  the  long  shadowy  ward,  the  beautiful 
ghostly  moonlight  on  the  floor,  the  white  beds,  here  and  there 
an  occupant  with  huddled  form,  the  bed-clothes  thrown  off.  The 
hospitals  have  a  number  of  cases  of  sun-stroke  and  exhaustion 
by  heat,  from  the  late  reviews.  There  are  many  such  from  the 
Sixth  corps,  from  the  hot  parade  of  day  before  yesterday.  (Some 
of  these  shows  cost  the  lives  of  scores  of  men.) 

Sunday,  Sep.  10. — Visited  Douglas  and  Stanton  hospitals.  They 
are  quite  full.  Many  of  the  cases  are  bad  ones,  lingering  wounds, 
and  old  sickness.  There  is  a  more  than  usual  look  of  despair 
on  the  countenances  of  many  of  the  men ;  hope  has  left  them. 
I  went  through  the  wards,  talking  as  usual.  There  are  several 
here  from  the  confederate  army  whom  I  had  seen  in  other  hos- 
pitals, and  they  recognized  me.  Two  were  in  a  dying  con- 
dition. 


y6  SPECIMEN  DA  VS. 

CALHOUN'S  REAL  MONUMENT. 
In  one  of  the  hospital  tents  for  special  cases,  as  I  sat  to-day 
tending  a  new  amputation,  I  heard  a  couple  of  neighboring  sol- 
diers talking  to  each  other  from  their  cots.  One  down  with  fever, 
but  improving,  had  come  up  belated  from  Charleston  not  long 
before.  The  other  was  what  we  now  call  an  "  old  veteran," 
(i.  e.,  he  was  a  Connecticut  youth,  probably  of  less  than  the  age 
of  twenty-five  years,  the  four  last  of  which  he  had  spent  in 
active  service  in  the  war  in  all  parts  of  the  country.)  The  two 
were  chatting  of  one  thing  and  another.  The  fever  soldier  spoke 
of  John  C.  Calhoun's  monument,  which  he  had  seen,  and  was 
describing  it.  The  veteran  said  :  "I  have  seen  Calhoun's  monu- 
ment. That  you  saw  is  not  the  real  monument.  But  I  have  seen 
it.  It. is  the  desolated,  ruined  south;  nearly  the  whole  genera- 
tion of  young  men  between  seventeen  and  thirty  destroyed  or 
maim'd;  all  the  old  families  used  up — the  rich  impoverish'd,  the 
plantations  cover'd  with  weeds,  the  slaves  unloos'd  and  become 
the  masters,  and  the  name  of  southerner  blacken'd  with  every 
shame — all  that  is  Calhoun's  real  monument." 

HOSPITALS  CLOSING. 

October  j. — There  are  two  army  hospitals  now  remaining.  I 
went  to  the  largest  of  these  (Douglas)  and  spent  the  afternoon 
and  evening.  There  are  many  sad  cases,  old  wounds,  incurable 
sickness,  and  some  of  the  wounded  from  the  March  and  April 
battles  before  Richmond.  Few  realize  how  sharp  and  bloody 
those  closing  battles  were.  Our  men  exposed  themselves  more 
than  usual ;  press'd  ahead  without  urging.  Then  the  southern- 
ers fought  with  extra  desperation.  Both  sides  knew  that  with 
the  successful  chasing  of  the  rebel  cabal  from  Richmond,  and  the 
occupation  of  that  city  by  the  national  troops,  the  game  was  up. 
The  dead  and  wounded  were  unusually  many.  Of  the  wounded 
the  last  lingering  driblets  have  been  brought  to  hospital  here.  I 
find  many  rebel  wounded  here,  and  have  been  extra  busy  to  day 
'tending  to  the  worst  cases  of  them  with  the  rest. 

Oct.,  Nov.  and  Dec,  '65 — Sundays. — Every  Sunday  of  these 
months  visited  Harewood  hospital  out  in  the  woods,  pleasant  and 
recluse,  some  two  and  a  half  or  three  miles  north  of  the  capitol. 
The  situation  is  healthy,  with  broken  ground,  grassy  slopes  and 
patches  of  oak  woods,  the  trees  large  and  fine.  It  was  one  of 
the  most  extensive  of  the  hospitals,  now  reduced  to  four  or  five 
partially  occupied  wards,  the  numerous  others  being  vacant.  In 
November,  this  became  the  last  military  hospital  kept  up  by  the 
government,  all  the  others  being  closed.  Cases  of  the  worst  and 
most  incurable  wounds,  obstinate  illness,  and  of  poor  fellows  who 
have  no  homes  to  go  to,  are  found  here. 


SPECIMEN  DA  YS.  7  7 

Dec.  10 — Sunday. — Again  spending  a  good  part  of  the  day  at 
Harewood.  I  write  this  about  an  hour  before  sundown.  I  have 
walk'd  out  for  a  few  minutes  to  the  edge  of  the  woods  to  soothe 
myself  with  the  hour  and  scene.  It  is  a  glorious,  warm,  golden- 
sunny,  still  afternoon.  The  only  noise  is  from  a  crowd  of  caw- 
ing crows,  on  some  trees  three  hundred  yards  distant.  Clusters 
of  gnats  swimming  and  dancing  in  the  air  in  all  directions.  The 
oak  leaves  are  thick  under  the  bare  trees,  and  give  a  strong  and 
delicious  perfume.  Inside  the  wards  everything  is  gloomy. 
Death  is  there.  As  I  enter'd,  I  was  confronted  by  it  the  first 
thing;  a  corpse  of  a  poor  soldier,  just  dead,  of  typhoid  fever. 
The  attendants  had  just  straighten'd  the  limbs,  put  coppers  on 
the  eyes,  and  were  laying  it  out. 

The  roads. — A  great  recreation,  the  past  three  years,  has  been 
in  taking  long  walks  out  from  Washington,  five,  seven,  perhaps 
ten  miles  and  back ;  generally  with  my  friend  Peter  Doyle,  who 
is  as  fond  of  it  as  I  am.  Fine  moonlight  nights,  over  the  perfect 
military  roads,  hard  and  smooth — or  Sundays — we  had  these  de- 
lightful walks,  never  to  be  forgotten.  The  roads  connecting 
Washington  and  the  numerous  forts  around  the  city,  made  one 
useful  result,  at  any  rate,  out  of  the  war. 

TYPICAL  SOLDIERS. 

Even  the  typical  soldiers  I  have  been  personally  intimate  with, 
— it  seems  to  me  if  I  were  to  make  a  list  of  them  it  would  be  like 
a  city  directory.  Some  few  only  have  I  mention'd  in  the  fore- 
going pages — most  are  dead — a  few  yet  living.  There  is  Reuben 
Farwell,  of  Michigan,  (little  '  Mitch  ;')  Benton  H.  Wilson,  color- 
bearer,  185th  New  York;  Wm.  Stansberry;  Manvill  Winterstein, 
Ohio;  Bethuel  Smith;  Capt.  Simms,  of  51st  New  York,  (kill'd 
at  Petersburgh  mine  explosion,)  Capt.  Sam.  Pooley  and  Lieut. 
Fred.  McReady,  same  reg't.  Also,  same  reg't.,  my  brother, 
George  W.  Whitman — in  active  service  all  through,  four  years, 
re-enlisting  twice — was  promoted,  step  by  step,  (several  times 
immediately  after  battles,)  lieutenant,  captain,  major  and  lieut. 
colonel — was  in  the  actions  at  Roanoke,  Newbern,  2d  Bull  Run, 
Chantilly,  South  Mountain,  Antietam,  Fredericksburgh,  Vicks- 
burgh,  Jackson,  the  bloody  conflicts  of  the  Wilderness,  and  at 
Spottsylvania,  Cold  Harbor,  and  afterwards  around  Petersburgh ; 
at  one  of  these  latter  was  taken  prisoner,  and  pass'd  four  or  five 
months  in  secesh  military  prisons,  narrowly  escaping  with  life, 
from  a  severe  fever,  from  starvation  and  half-nakedness  in  the 
winter.  (What  a  history  that  51st  New  York  had  !  Went  out 
early — march' d,  fought  everywhere — was  in  storms  at  sea,  nearly 
wreck' d — storm' d  forts — tramp' d  hither  and  yon  in  Virginia, 


73 


SPECIMEN  DA  YS. 


night  and  day,  summer  of  '62 — afterwards  Kentucky  and  Missis- 
sippi— re-enlisted — was  in  all  the  engagements  and  campaigns,  as 
above.)  I  strengthen  and  comfort  myself  much  with  the  cer- 
tainty that  the  capacity  for  just  such  regiments,  (hundreds,  thou- 
sands of  them)  is  inexhaustible  in  the  United  States,  and  that 
there  isn't  a  county  nor  a  township  in  the  republic — nor  a  street 
in  any  city — but  could  turn  out,  and,  on  occasion,  would  turn 
out,  lots  of  just  such  typical  soldiers,  whenever  wanted. 

"  CONVULSIVENESS." 
As  I  have  look'd  over  the  proof-sheets  of  the  preceding  pages, 
I  have  once  or  twice  fear'd  that  my  diary  would  prove,  at  best, 
but  a  batch  of  convulsively  written  reminiscences.  Well,  be  it 
so.  They  are  but  parts  of  the  actual  distraction,  heat,  smoke 
and  excitement  of  those  times.  The  war  itself,  with  the  temper 
of  society  preceding  it,  can  indeed  be  best  described  by  that  very 
word  convulsiveness. 

THREE  YEARS  SUMM'D  UP. 
During  those  three  years  in  hospital,  camp  or  field,  I  made 
over  six  hundred  visits  or  tours,  and  went,  as  I  estimate,  counting 
all,  among  from  eighty  thousand  to  a  hundred  thousand  of  the 
wounded  and  sick,  as  sustainer  of  spirit  and  body  in  some  de- 
gree, in  time  of  need.  These  visits  varied  from  an  hour  or  two, 
to  all  day  or  night ;  for  with  dear  or  critical  cases  I  generally 
watch'd  all  night.  Sometimes  I  took  up  my  quarters  in  the  hos- 
pital, and  slept  or  watch'd  there  several  nights  in  succession. 
Those  three  years  I  consider  the  greatest  privilege  and  satisfac- 
tion, (with  all  their  feverish  excitements  and  physical  depriva- 
tions and  lamentable  sights,)  and,  of  course,  the  most  profound 
lesson  of  my  life.  I  can  say  that  in  my  ministerings  I  compre- 
hended all,  whoever  came  in  my  way,  northern  or  southern,  and 
slighted  none.  It  arous'd  and  brought  out  and  decided  un- 
dream'd-of  depths  of  emotion.  It  has  given  me  my  most  fervent 
views  of  the  true  ensemble  and  extent  of  the  States.  While  I  was 
with  wounded  and  sick  in  thousands  of  cases  from  the  New  Eng- 
land States,  and  from  New  York,  New  Jersey,  and  Pennsylvania, 
and  from  Michigan,  Wisconsin,  Ohio,  Indiana,  Illinois,  and  all 
the  Western  States,  I  was  with  more  or  less  from  all  the  States, 
North  and  South,  without  exception.  I  was  with  many  from  the 
border  States,  especially  from  Maryland  and  Virginia,  and  found, 
during  those  lurid  years  1862-63,  far  more  Union  southerners, 
especially  Tennesseans,  than  is  supposed.  I  was  with  many  rebel 
officers  and  men  among  our  wounded,  and  gave  them  always  what 
I  had,  and  tried  to  cheer  them  the  same  as  any.  I  was  among 
the  army  teamsters  considerably,  and,  indeed,  always  found  my- 


SPECIMEN  DA  VS.  y9 

self  drawn  to  them.  Among  the  black  soldiers,  wounded  or  sick, 
and  in  the  contraband  camps,  I  also  took  my  way  whenever  in 
their  neighborhood,  and  did  what  I  could  for  them. 

THE  MILLION  DEAD,  TOO,  SUMM'D  UP. 

The  dead  in  this  war — there  they  lie,  strewing  the  fields  and 
woods  and  valleys  and  battle-fields  of  the  south — Virginia,  the 
Peninsula — Malvern  hill  and  Fair  Oaks — the  banks  of  the  Chick- 
ahominy — the  terraces  of  Fredericksburgh — Antietam  bridge — 
the  grisly  ravines  of  Manassas — the  bloody  promenade  of  the 
Wilderness — the  varieties  of  the  strayed  dead,  (the  estimate  of 
the  War  department  is  25,000  national  soldiers  kill'd  in  battle 
and  never  buried  at  all,  5,000  drown'd — 15,000  inhumed  by 
strangers,  or  on  the  march  in  haste,  in  hitherto  unfound  locali- 
ties— 2,000  graves  cover'd  by  sand  and  mud  by  Mississippi 
freshets,  3,000  carried  away  by  caving-in  of  banks,  &c.,) — Get- 
tysburgh,  the  West,  Southwest — Vicksburgh — Chattanooga — the 
trenches  of  Petersburgh — the  numberless  battles,  camps,  hospitals 
everywhere — the  crop  reap'd  by  the  mighty  reapers,  typhoid, 
dysentery,  inflammations — and  blackest  and  loathesomest  of  all, 
the  dead  and  living  burial-pits,  the  prison-pens  of  Andersonville, 
Salisbury,  Belle-Isle,  &c,  (not  Dante's  pictured  hell  and  all  its 
woes,  its  degradations,  filthy  torments,  excell'd  those  prisons) — 
the  dead,  the  dead,  the  dead — our  dead — or  South  or  North,  ours 
all,  (all,  all,  all,  finally  dear  to  me) — or  East  or  West — Atlantic 
coast  or  Mississippi  valley — somewhere  theycrawl'd  to  die,  alone, 
in  bushes,  low  gullies,  or  on  the  sides  of  hills — (there,  in  se- 
cluded spots,  their  skeletons,  bleach'd  bones,  tufts  of  hair,  but- 
tons, fragments  of  clothing,  are  occasionally  found  yet) — our 
young  men  once  so  handsome  and  so  joyous,  taken  from  us — the 
son  from  the  mother,  the  husband  from  the  wife,  the  dear  friend 
from  the  dear  friend — the  clusters  of  camp  graves,  in  Georgia, 
the  Carolinas,  and  in  Tennessee — the  single  graves  left  in  the 
woods  or  by  the  road-side,  (hundreds,  thousands,  obliterated) — 
the  corpses  floated  down  the  rivers,  and  caught  and  lodged, 
(dozens,  scores,  floated  down  the  upper  Potomac,  after  the 
cavalry  engagements,  the  pursuit  of  Lee,  following  Gettysburgh) 
— some  lie  at  the  bottom  of  the  sea — the  general  million,  and 
the  special  cemeteries  in  almost  all  the  States — the  infinite  dead 
— (the  land  entire  saturated,  perfumed  with  their  impalpable 
ashes'  exhalation  in  Nature's  chemistry  distill'd,  and  shall  be  so 
forever,  in  every  future  grain  of  wheat  and  ear  of  corn,  and 
every  flower  that  grows,  and  every  breath  we  draw) — not  only 
Northern  dead  leavening  Southern  soil — thousands,  aye  tens  of 
thousands,  of  Southerners,  crumble  to-day  in  Northern  earth. 


So  SPECIMEN  DA  YS. 

And  everywhere  among  these  countless  graves — everywhere  in 
the  many  soldier  Cemeteries  of  the  Nation,  (there  are  now,  I  be- 
lieve, over  seventy  of  them) — as  at  the  time  in  the  vast  trenches, 
the  depositories  of  slain,  Northern  and  Southern,  after  the  great 
battles — not  only  where  the  scathing  trail  passed  those  years,  but 
radiating  since  in  all  the  peaceful  quarters  of  the  land — we  see, 
and  ages  yet  may  see,  on  monuments  and  gravestones,  singly  or 
in  masses,  to  thousands  or  tens  of  thousands,  the  significant 
word  Unknown. 

(In  some  of  the  cemeteries  nearly  al/ the  dead  are  unknown. 
At  Salisbury,  N.  C,  for  instance,  the  known  are  only  85,  while 
the  unknown  are  12,027,  and  11,700  of  these  are  buried  in 
trenches.  A  national  monument  has  been  put  up  here,  by  order 
of  Congress,  to  mark  the  spot — but  what  visible,  material  monu- 
ment can  ever  fittingly  commemorate  that  spot  ?) 

THE  REAL  WAR  WILL  NEVER  GET  IN  THE  BOOKS. 

And  so  good-bye  to  the  war.  I  know  not  how  it  may  have 
been,  or  may  be,  to  others — to  me  the  main  interest  I  found,  (and 
still,  on  recollection,  find,)  in  the  rank  and  file  of  the  armies, 
both  sides,  and  in  those  specimens  amid  the  hospitals,  and  even 
the  dead  on  the  field.  To  me  the  points  illustrating  the  latent 
personal  character  and  eligibilities  of  these  States,  in  the  two  or 
three  millions  of  American  young  and  middle-aged  men,  North 
and  South,  embodied  in  those  armies — and  especially  the  one- 
third  or  one-fourth  of  their  number,  stricken  by  wounds  or  dis- 
ease at  some  time  in  the  course  of  the  contest — were  of  more 
significance  even  than  the  political  interests  involved.  (As  so 
much  of  a  race  depends  on  how  it  faces  death,  and  how  it  stands 
personal  anguish  and  sickness.  As,  in  the  glints  of  emotions 
under  emergencies,  and  the  indirect  traits  and  asides  in  Plutarch, 
we  get  far  profounder  clues  to  the  antique  world  than  all  its  more 
formal  history.) 

Future  years  will  never  know  the  seething  hell  and  the  black 
infernal  background  of  countless  minor  scenes  and  interiors,  (not 
the  official  surface-courteousness  of  the  Generals,  not  the  few  great 
battles)  of  the  Secession  war ;  and  it  is  best  they  should  not — the 
real  war  will  never  get  in  the  books.  In  the  mushy  influences  of 
current  times,  too,  the  fervid  atmosphere  and  typical  events  of 
those  years  are  in  danger  of  being  totally  forgotten.  I  have  at 
night  watch'd  by  the  side  of  a  sick  man  in  the  hospital,  one  who 
could  not  live  many  hours.  I  have  seen  his  eyes  flash  and  burn 
as  he  raised  himself  and  recurr'd  to  the  cruelties  on  his  surren- 
der'd  brother,  and  mutilations  of  the  corpse  afterward.  (See,  in 
the  preceding  pages,  the  incident  at  Upperville— the  seventeen 


SPECIMEN  DAYS.  8 1 

kill'd  as  in  the  description,  were  left  there  on  the  ground.  After 
they  dropt  dead,  no  one  touch'd  them — all  were  made  sure  of, 
however.  The  carcasses  were  left  for  the  citzens  to  bury  or  not, 
as  they  chose.) 

Such  was  the  war.  It  was  not  a  quadrille  in  a  ball-room.  Its 
interior  history  will  not  only  never  be  written*—  its  practicality, 
minutiae  of  deeds  and  passions,  will  never  be  even  suggested.  The 
actual  soldier  of  1862-65,  North  and  South,  with  all  his  ways, 
his  incredible  dauntlessness,  habits,  practices,  tastes,  language, 
his  fierce  friendship,  his  appetite,  rankness,  his  superb  strength 
and  animality,  lawless  gait,  and  a  hundred  unnamed  lights  and 
shades  of  camp,  I  say,  will  never  be  written — perhaps  must  not 
and  should  not  be. 

The  preceding  notes  may  furnish  a  few  stray  glimpses  into  that 
life,  and  into  those  lurid  interiors,  never  to  be  fully  convey'd  to 
the  future.  The  hospital  part  of  the  drama  from  '61  to  '65,  de- 
serves indeed  to  be  recorded.  Of  that  many-threaded  drama, 
with  its  sudden  and  strange  surprises,  its  confounding  of  prophe- 
cies, its  moments  of  despair,  the  dread  of  foreign  interference, 
the  interminable  campaigns,  the  bloody  battles,  the  mighty  and 
cumbrous  and  green  armies,  the  drafts  and  bounties — the  im- 
mense money  expenditure,  like  a  heavy-pouring  constant  rain — 
with,  over  the  whole  land,  the  last  three  years  of  the  struggle, 
an  unending,  universal  mourning-wail  of  women,  parents,  or- 
phans— the  marrow  of  the  tragedy  concentrated  in  those  Army 
Hospitals — (it  seem'd  sometimes  as  if  the  whole  interest  of  the 
land,  North  and  South,  was  one  vast  central  hospital,  and  all  the 
rest  of  the  affair  but  flanges) — those  forming  the  untold  and  un- 
written history  of  the  war — infinitely  greater  (like  life's)  than 
the  few  scraps  and  distortions  that  are  ever  told  or  written. 
Think  how  much,  and  of  importance,  will  be — how  much,  civic 
and  military,  has  already  been — buried  in  the  grave,  in  eternal 
darkness. 

AN  INTERREGNUM  PARAGRAPH. 

Several  years  now  elapse  before  I  resume  my  diary.  I  con- 
tinued at  Washington  working  in  the  Attorney-General's  depart- 
ment through  '66  and  '67,  and  some  time  afterward.  In  Feb- 
ruary '73  I  was  stricken  down  by  paralysis,  gave  up  my  desk, 
and  migrated  to  Camden,  New  Jersey,  where  I  lived  during  '74 
and  '75,  quite  unwell — but  after  that  began  to  grow  better;  com- 
menc'd  going  for  weeks  at  a  time,  even  for  months,  down  in  the 
country,  to  a  charmingly  recluse  and  rural  spot  along  Timber 
creek,  twelve  or  thirteen  miles  from  where  it  enters  the  Delaware 
river.  Domicil'd  at  the  farm-house  of  my  friends,  the  Staffords, 
near  by,  I  lived  half  the  time  along  this  creek  and  its  adjacent 


82  SPECIMEN  DA  VS. 

fields  and  lanes.  And  it  is  to  my  life  here  that  I,  perhaps,  owe 
partial  recovery  (a  sort  of  second  wind,  or  semi-renewal  of  the 
lease  of  life)  from  the  prostration  of  1874-' 75.  If  the  notes  of 
that  outdoor  life  could  only  prove  as  glowing  to  you,  reader  dear, 
as  the  experience  itself  was  to  me.  Doubtless  in  the  course  of 
the  following,  the  fact  of  invalidism  will  crop  out,  (I  call  my- 
self a  half-Paralytic  these  days,  and  reverently  bless  the  Lord 
it  is  no  worse,)  between  some  of  the  lines — but  I  get  my  share 
of  fun  and  healthy  hours,  and  shall  try  to  indicate  them.  (The 
trick  is,  I  find,  to  tone  your  wants  and  tastes  low  down  enough, 
and  make  much  of  negatives,  and  of  mere  daylight  and  the 
skies.  ^ 

NEW  THEMES  ENTERED  UPON. 

1876,  ^77. — I  find  the  woods  in  mid-May  and  early  June  my 
best  places  for  composition.*  Seated  on  logs  or  stumps  there, 
or  resting  on  rails,  nearly  all  the  following  memoranda  have  been 
jotted  down.  Wherever  I  go,  indeed,  winter  or  summer,  city  or 
country,  alone  at  home  or  traveling,  I  must  take  notes — (the 
ruling  passion  strong  in  age  and  disablement,  and  even  the  ap- 
proach of — but  I  must  not  say  it  yet.)  Then  underneath  the  follow- 
ing excerpta — crossing  the  fs  and  dotting  the  fs  of  certain  mod- 
erate movements  of  late  years — I  am  fain  to  fancy  the  founda- 
tions of  quite  a  lesson  learn'd.  After  you  have  exhausted  what 
there  is  in  business,  politics,  conviviality,  love,  and  so  on — have 
found  that  none  of  these  finally  satisfy,  or  permanently  wear — 
what  remains?  Nature  remains  ;  to  bring  out  from  their  torpid 
recesses,  the  affinities  of  a  man  or  woman  with  the  open  air,  the 
trees,  fields,  the  changes  of  seasons — the  sun  by  day  and  the  stars 
of  heaven  by  night.  We  will  begin  from  these  convictions. 
Literature  flies  so  high  and  is  so  hotly  spiced,  that  our  notes  may 
seem  hardly  more  than  breaths  of  common  air,  or  draughts  of 
water  to  drink.     But  that  is  part  of  our  lesson. 

Dear,  soothing,  healthy,  restoration-hours — after  three  confin- 
ing years  of  paralysis — after  the  long  strain  of  the  war,  and  its 
wounds  and  death. 

*  Without  apology  for  the  abrupt  change  of  field  and  atmosphere — after 
■what  I  have  put  in  the  preceding  fifty  or  sixty  pages — temporary  episodes, 
thank  heaven! — I  restore  my  book  to  the  bracing  and  buoyant  equilibrium  of 
concrete  outdoor  Nature,  the  only  permanent  reliance  for  sanity  of  book  or 
human  life. 

Who  knows,  (I  have  it  in  my  fancy,  my  ambition,)  but  the  pages  now  en- 
suing may  carry  ray  of  sun,  or  smell  of  grass  or  corn,  or  call  of  bird,  or  gleam 
of  stars  by  night,  or  snow-flakes  falling  fresh  and  mystic,  to  denizen  of  heated 
city  house,  or  tired  workman  or  workwoman  ? — or  may-be  in  sick-room  or 
prison — to  serve  as  cooling  breeze,  or  Nature's  aroma,  to  some  fever'd  mouth 
or  latent  pulse. 


SPECIMEN  DA  YS.  83 

ENTERING  A  LONG  FARM-LANE. 
As  every  man  has  his  hobby-liking,  mine  is  for  a  real  farm-lane 
fenced  by  old  chestnut-rails  gray-green  with  dabs  of  moss  and 
lichen,  copious  weeds  and  briers  growing  in  spots  athwart  the 
heaps  of  stray-pick' d  stones  at  the  fence  bases — irregular  paths 
worn  between,  and  horse  and  cow  tracks — all  characteristic  ac- 
companiments marking  and  scenting  the  neighborhood  in  their 
seasons — apple-tree  blossoms  in  forward  April — pigs,  poultry,  a 
field  of  August  buckwheat,  and  in  another  the  long  flapping  tas- 
sels of  maize — and  so  to  the  pond,  the  expansion  of  the  creek, 
the  secluded-beautiful,  with  young  and  old  trees,  and  such  re- 
cesses and  vistas. 

TO  THE  SPRING  AND  BROOK. 

So,  still  sauntering  on,  to  the  spring  under  the  willows — musi- 
cal as  soft  clinking  glasses — pouring  a  sizeable  stream,  thick  as 
my  neck,  pure  and  clear,  out  from  its  vent  where  the  bank  arches 
over  like  a  great  brown  shaggy  eyebrow  or  mouth-roof — gurg- 
ling, gurgling  ceaselessly — meaning,  saying  something,  of  course 
(if  one  could  only  translate  it) — always  gurgling  there,  the  whole 
year  through — never  giving  out — oceans  of  mint,  blackberries  in 
summer — choice  of  light  and  shade — :just  the  place  for  my  July 
sun-baths  and  water-baths  too — but  mainly  the  inimitable  soft 
sound-gurgles  of  it,  as  I  sit  there  hot  afternoons.  How  they  and 
all  grow  into  me,  day  after  day — everything  in  keeping — the 
wild,  just-palpable  perfume,  and  the  dapple  of  leaf-shadows,  and 
all  the  natural-medicinal,  elemental-moral  influences  of  the  spot. 

Babble  on,  O  brook,  with  that  utterance  of  thine  !  I  too  will 
express  what  I  have  gather'd  in  my  days  and  progress,  native,  sub- 
terranean, past — and  now  thee.  Spin  and  wind  thy  way — I  with 
thee,  a  little  while,  at  any  rate.  As  I  haunt  thee  so  often,  sea- 
son by  season,  thou  knowest  reckest  not  me,  (yet  why  be  so  cer- 
tain? who  can  tell?) — but  I  will  learn  from  thee,  and  dwell  on 
thee — receive,  copy,  print  from  thee. 

AN  EARLY  SUMMER  REVEILLE. 
Away  then  to  loosen,  to  unstring  the  divine  bow,  so  tense,  so 
long.  Away,  from  curtain ,  carpet,  sofa,  book — from  "  society ' ' — 
from  city  house,  street,  and  modern  improvements  and  luxuries — 
away  to  the  primitive  winding,  aforementioned  wooded  creek, 
with  its  untrimm'd  bushes  and  turfy  banks — away  from  ligatures, 
tight  boots,  buttons,  and  the  whole  cast-iron  civilizee  life — from 
entourage  of  artificial  store,  machine,  studio,  office,  parlor — from 
tailordom  and  fashion's  clothes — from  any  clothes,  perhaps,  for 
the  nonce,  the  summer  heats  advancing,  there  in  those  watery, 
shaded  solitudes.     Away,  thou  soul,  (let  me  pick  thee  out  singly, 


84 


SPECIMEN  DA  VS. 


reader  dear,  and  talk  in  perfect  freedom,  negligently,  confiden- 
tially,) for  one  day  and  night  at  least,  returning  to  the  naked 
source-life  of  us  all — to  the  breast  of  the  great  silent  savage 
all-acceptive  Mother.  Alas !  how  many  of  us  are  so  sodden — 
how  many  have  wander'd  so  far  away,  that  return  is  almost  im- 
possible. 

But  to  my  jottings,  taking  them  as  they  come,  from  the  heap, 
without  particular  selection.  There  is  little  consecutiveness  in 
dates.  They  run  any  time  within  nearly  five  or  six  years.  Each 
was  carelessly  pencilled  in  the  open  air,  at  the  time  and  place. 
The  printers  will  learn  this  to  some  vexation  perhaps,  as  much 
of  their  copy  is  from  those  hastily-written  first  notes. 

BIRDS  MIGRATING  AT  MIDNIGHT. 
Did  you  ever  chance  to  hear  the  midnight  flight  of  birds  pass- 
ing through  the  air  and  darkness  overhead,  in  countless  armies, 
changing  their  early  or  late  summer  habitat  ?  It  is  something  not 
to  be  forgotten.  A  friend  called  me  up  just  after  12  last  night 
to  mark  the  peculiar  noise  of  unusually  immense  flocks  migrating 
north  (rather  late  this  year.)  In  the  silence,  shadow  and  deli- 
cious odor  of  the  hour,  (the  natural  perfume  belonging  to  the  night 
alone,)  I  thought  it  rare  music.  You  could  hear  the  character- 
istic motion — once  or  twice  "the  rush  of  mighty  wings,"  but 
oftener  a  velvety  rustle,  long  drawn  out — sometimes  quite  near — 
with  continual  calls  and  chirps,  and  some  song-notes.  It  all 
lasted  from  1 2  till  after  3.  Once  in  a  while  the  species  was  plainly 
distinguishable;  I  could  make  out  the  bobolink,  tanager,  Wil- 
son's thrush,  white-crown'd  sparrow,  and  occasionally  from  high 
in  the  air  came  the  notes  of  the  plover. 

BUMBLE-BEES. 
May-month — month  of  swarming,  singing,  mating  birds — the 
bumble-bee  month — month  of  the  flowering  lilac— (and  then  my 
ownbirth-month.)  As  I  jot  this  paragraph,  I  am  out  just  after 
sunrise,  and  down  towards  the  creek.  The  lights,  perfumes, 
melodies— the  blue  birds,  grass  birds  and  robins,  in  every  direc- 
tion—the noisy,  vocal,  natural  concert.  For  undertones,  a  neigh- 
boring wood-pecker  tapping  his  tree,  and  the  distant  clarion  of 
chanticleer.  Then  the  fresh  earth  smells— the  colors,  the  delicate 
drabs  and  thin  blues  of  the  perspective.  The  bright  green  of 
the  grass  has  receiv'd  an  added  tinge  from  the  last  two  days' 
mildness  and  moisture.  How  the  sun  silently  mounts  in  the 
broad  clear  sky,  on  his  day's  journey!  How  the  warm  beams 
bathe  all,  and  come  streaming  kissingly  and  almost  hot  on  my 
face. 

A  while  since  the  croaking  of  the  pond-frogs  and  the  first  white 


SPECIMEN  DA  YS. 


«S 


of  the  dog-wood  blossoms.  Now  the  golden  dandelions  in  end- 
less profusion,  spotting  the  ground  everywhere.  The  white  cherry 
and  pear-blows — the  wild  violets,  with  their  blue  eyes  looking 
up  and  saluting  my  feet,  as  I  saunter  the  wood-edge — the  rosy 
blush  of  budding  apple-trees — the  light-clear  emerald  hue  of 
the  wheat-fields — the  darker  green  of  the  rye — a  warm  elasticity 
pervading  the  air — the  cedar-bushes  profusely  deck'd  with  their 
little  brown  apples — the  summer  fully  awakening — the  convoca- 
tion of  black  birds,  garrulous  flocks  of  them,  gathering  on  some 
tree,  and  making  the  hour  and  place  noisy  as  I  sit  near. 

Later. — Nature  marches  in  procession,  in  sections,  like  the 
corps  of  an  army.  All  have  done  much  for  me,  and  still  do. 
But  for  the  last  two  days  it  has  been  the  great  wild  bee,  the 
humble-bee,  or  "  bumble,"  as  the  children  call  him.  As  I  walk, 
or  hobble,  from  the  farm-house  down  to  the  creek,  I  traverse  the 
before-mention'd  lane,  fenced  by  old  rails,  with  many  splits, 
splinters,  breaks,  holes,  &c,  the  choice  habitat  of  those  crooning, 
hairy  insects.  Up  and  down  and  by  and  between  these  rails, 
they  swarm  and  dart  and  fly  in  countless  myriads.  As  I  wend 
slowly  along,  I  am  often  accompanied  with  a  moving  cloud  of 
them.  They  play  a  leading  part  in  my  morning,  midday  or  sun- 
set rambles,  and  often  dominate  the  landscape  in  a  way  I  never 
before  thought  of — fill  the  long  lane,  not  by  scores  or  hundreds 
only,  but  by  thousands.  Large  and  vivacious  and  swift,  with 
wonderful  momentum  and  a  loud  swelling  perpetual  hum,  varied 
now  and  then  by  something  almost  like  a  shriek,  they  dart  to 
and  fro,  in  rapid  flashes,  chasing  each  other,  and  (little  things  as 
they  are,)  conveying  to  me  a  new  and  pronounc'd  sense  of 
strength,  beauty,  vitality  and  movement.  Are  they  in  their 
mating  season?  or  what  is  the  meaning  of  this  plenitude,  swift- 
ness, eagerness,  display?  As  I  walk'd,  I  thought  I  was  follow'd 
by  a  particular  swarm,  but  upon  observation  I  saw  that  it  was  a 
rapid  succession  Of  changing  swarms,  one  after  another. 

As  I  write,  I  am  seated  under  a  big  wild-cherry  tree — the  warm 
day  temper'd  by  partial  clouds  and  a  fresh  breeze,  neither  too 
heavy  nor  light — and  here  I  sit  long  and  long,  envelop'd  in  the 
deep  musical  drone  of  these  bees,  flitting,  balancing,  darting  to 
and  fro  about  me  by  hundreds — big  fellows  with  light  yellow 
jackets,  great  glistening  swelling  bodies,  stumpy  heads  and  gauzy 
wings — humming  their  perpetual  rich  mellow  boom.  (Is  there 
not  a  hint  in  it  for  a  musical  composition,  of  which  it  should  be 
the  back-ground  ?  some  bumble-bee  symphony  ?)  How  it  all 
nourishes,  lulls  me,  in  the  way  most  needed ;  the  open  air,  the 
rye-fields,  the  apple  orchards.  The  last  two  days  have  been 
faultless  in  sun,  breeze,  temperature  and  everything ;  never  two 


86  SPECIMEN  DA  YS. 

more  perfect  days,  and  I  have  enjoy' d  them  wonderfully.  My 
health  is  somewhat  better,  and  my  spirit  at  peace.  (Yet  the  anni- 
versary of  the  saddest  loss  and  sorrow  of  my  life  is  close  at  hand.) 

Another  jotting,  another  perfect  day :  forenoon,  from  7  to  9, 
two  hours  envelop'd  in  sound  of  bumble-bees  and  bird-music. 
Down  in  the  apple-trees  and  in  a  neighboring  cedar  were  three 
or  four  russet-back'd  thrushes,  each  singing  his  best,  and  rou- 
lading  in  ways  I  never  heard  surpass'd.  Two  hours  I  abandon 
myself  to  hearing  them,  and  indolently  absorbing  the  scene. 
Almost  every  bird  I  notice  has  a  special  time  in  the  year — some- 
times limited  to  a  few  days — when  it  sings  its  best ;  and  now  is 
the  period  of  these  russet-backs.  Meanwhile,  up  and  down  the 
lane,  the  darting,  droning,  musical  bumble-bees.  A  great  swarm 
again  for  my  entourage  as  I  return  home,  moving  along  with  me 
as  before. 

As  I  write  this,  two  or  three  weeks  later,  I  am  sitting  near  the 
brook  under  a  tulip  tree,  70  feet  high,  thick  with  the  fresh  verdure 
of  its  young  maturity — a  beautiful  object — every  branch,  every 
leaf  perfect.  From  top  to  bottom,  seeking  the  sweet  juice  in  the 
blossoms,  it  swarms  with  myriads  of  these  wild  bees,  whose  loud 
and  steady  humming  makes  an  undertone  to  the  whole,  and  to  my 
mood  and  the  hour.  All  of  which  I  will  bring  to  a  close  by  ex- 
tracting the  following  verses  from  Henry  A.  Beers's  little  volume: 

"  As  I  lay  yonder  in  tall  grass 
A  drunken  bumble-bee  went  past 
Delirious  with  honey  toddy. 
The  golden  sash  about  his  body 
Scarce  kept  it  in  his  swollen  belly 
Distent  with  honeysuckle  jelly. 
Rose  liquor  and  the  sweet-pea  wine 
Had  fill'd  his  soul  with  song  divine; 
Deep  had  he  drunk  the  warm  night  through, 
His  hairy  thighs  were  wet  with  dew. 
Full  many  an  antic  he  had  play'd 
While  the  world  went  round  through  sleep  and  shade. 
Oft  had  he  lit  with  thirsty  lip 
Some  flower-cup's  nectar'd  sweets  to  sip, 
When  on  smooth  petals  he  would  slip, 
Or  over  tangled  stamens  trip, 
And  headlong  in  the  pollen  roll'd, 
Crawl  out  quite  dusted  o'er  with  gold; 
Or  else  his  heavy  feet  would  stumble 
Against  some  bud,  and  down  he'd  tumble 
Amongst  the  grass ;  there  lie  and  grumble 
In  low,  soft  bass — poor  maudlin  bumble!" 

CEDAR-APPLES. 
As  I  journey'd  to-day  in  a  light  wagon  ten  or  twelve  miles 
through  the  country,  nothing  pleas'd  me  more,  in  their  homely 


SPECIMEN  DA  YS.  8 7 

beauty  and  novelty  (I  had  either  never  seen  the  little  things  to 
such  advantage,  or  had  never  noticed  them  before)  than  that 
peculiar  fruit,  with  its  profuse  clear-yellow  dangles  of  inch-long 
silk  or  yarn,  in  boundless  profusion  spotting  the  dark-green  cedar 
bushes — contrasting  well  with  their  bronze  tufts — the  flossy  shreds 
covering  the  knobs  all  over,  like  a  shock  of  wild  hair  on  elfin 
pates.  On  my  ramble  afterward  down  by  the  creek  I  pluck'd 
one  from  its  bush,  and  shall  keep  it.  These  cedar-apples  last  only 
a  little  while  however,  and  soon  crumble  and  fade. 

SUMMER  SIGHTS  AND  INDOLENCIES. 

June  10th. — As  I  write,  5^  p.  m.,  here  by  the  creek,  nothing 
can  exceed  the  quiet  splendor  and  freshness  around  me.  We  had 
a  heavy  shower,  with  brief  thunder  and  lightning,  in  the  middle 
of  the  day  ;  and  since,  overhead,  one  of  those  not  uncommon  yet 
indescribable  skies  (in  quality,  not  details  or  forms)  of  limpid 
blue,  with  rolling  silver-fringed  clouds,  and  a  pure-dazzling  sun. 
For  underlay,  trees  in  fulness  of  tender  foliage — liquid,  reedy, 
long-drawn  notes  of  birds — based  by  the  fretful  mewing  of  a 
querulous  cat-bird,  and  the  pleasant  chippering-shriek  of  two 
kingfishers.  I  have  been  watching  the  latter  the  last  half  hour, 
on  their  regular  evening  frolic  over  and  in  the  stream  ;  evidently 
a  spree  of  the  liveliest  kind.  They  pursue  each  other,  whirling 
and  wheeling  around,  with  many  a  jocund  downward  dip,  splash- 
ing the  spray  in  jets  of  diamonds — and  then  off  they  swoop,  with 
slanting  wings  and  graceful  flight,  sometimes  so  near  me  I  can 
plainly  see  their  dark-gray  feather-bodies  and  milk-white  necks. 

SUNDOWN  PERFUME— QUAIL-NOTES— THE  HERMIT-THRUSH. 
June  igthj  4  to  6j^»,  p.  m. — Sitting  alone  by  the  creek — solitude 
here,  but  the  scene  bright  and  vivid  enough — the  sun  shining, 
and  quite  afresh  wind  blowing  (some  heavy  showers  last  night,)  the 
grass  and  trees  looking  their  best — the  clare-obscure  of  different 
greens,  shadows,  half-shadows,  and  the  dappling  glimpses  of  the 
water,  through  recesses — the  wild  flageolet-note  of  a  quail  near 
by — the  just-heard  fretting  of  some  hylas  down  there  in  the  pond 
— crows  cawing  in  the  distance — a  drove  of  young  hogs  rooting 
in  soft  ground  near  the  oak  under  which  I  sit — some  come  sniffing 
near  me,  and  then  scamper  away,  with  grunts.  And  still  the 
clear  notes  of  the  quail — the  quiver  of  leaf-shadows  over  the  paper 
as  I  write — the  sky  aloft,  with  white  clouds,  and  the  sun  well 
declining  to  the  west — the  swift  darting  of  many  sand-swallows 
coming  and  going,  their  holes  in  a  neighboring  marl-bank — the 
odor  of  the  cedar  and  oak,  so  palpable,  as  evening  approaches — 
perfume,  color,  the  bronze-and-gold  of  nearly  ripen'd  wheat — 
clover-fields,  with  honey-scent — the  well-up  maize,  with  long  and 


83  SPECIMEN  DA  VS. 

rustling  leaves — the  great  patches  of  thriving  potatoes,  dusky 
green,  fleck'd  all  over  with  white  blossoms — the  old,  warty, 
venerable  oak  above  me — and  ever,  mix'd  with  the  dual  notes  of 
the  quail,  the  soughing  of  the  wind  through  some  near-by 
pines. 

As  I  rise  for  return,  I  linger  long  to  a  delicious  song-epilogue 
(is  it  the  hermit-thrush  ?)  from  some  bushy  recess  off  there  in  the 
swamp,  repeated  leisurely  and  pensively  over  and  over  again. 
This,  to  the  circle-gambols  of  the  swallows  flying  by  dozens  in 
concentric  rings  in  the  last  rays  of  sunset,  like  flashes  of  some 

airy  wheel. 

A  JULY  AFTERNOON  BY  THE  POND. 

The  fervent  heat,  but  so  much  more  endurable  in  this  pure 
air — the  white  and  pink  pond-blossoms,  with  great  heart-shaped 
leaves ;  the  glassy  waters  of  the  creek,  the  banks,  with  dense 
bushery,  and  the  picturesque  beeches  and  shade  and  turf;  the 
tremulous,  reedy  call  of  some  bird  from  recesses,  breaking  the 
warm,  indolent,  half-voluptuous  silence ;  an  occasional  wasp, 
hornet,  honey-bee  or  bumble  (they  hover  near  my  hands  or  face, 
yet  annoy  me  not,  nor  I  them,  as  they  appear  to  examine,  find 
nothing,  and  away  they  go) — the  vast  space  of  the  sky  overhead 
so  clear,  and  the  buzzard  up  there  sailing  his  slow  whirl  in  ma- 
jestic spirals  and  discs;  just  over  the  surface  of  the  pond,  two 
large  slate-color'd  dragon-flies,  with  wings  of  lace,  circling  and 
darting  and  occasionally  balancing  themselves  quite  still,  their 
wings  quivering  all  the  time,  (are  they  not  showing  off  for  my 
amusement  ?) — the  pond  itself,  with  the  sword-shaped  calamus ; 
the  water  snakes — occasionally  a  flitting  blackbird,  with  red 
dabs  on  his  shoulders,  as  he  darts  slantingly  by — the  sounds  that 
bring  out  the  solitude,  warmth,  light  and  shade — the  quawk  of 
some  pond  duck — (the  crickets  and  grasshoppers  are  mute  in  the 
noon  heat,  but  I  hear  the  song  of  the  first  cicadas ;) — then  at 
some  distance  the  rattle  and  whirr  of  a  reaping  machine  as  the 
horses  draw  it  on  a  rapid  walk  through  a  rye  field  on  the  oppo- 
site side  of  the  creek — (what  was  the  yellow  or  light-brown  bird, 
large  as  a  young  hen,  with  short  neck  and  long-stretch'd  legs  I 
just  saw,  in  flapping  and  awkward  flight  over  there  through  the 
trees?) — the  prevailing  delicate,  yet  palpable,  spicy,  grassy, 
clovery  perfume  to  my  nostrils  ;  and  over  all,  encircling  all,  to 
my  sight  and  soul,  the  free  space  of  the  sky,  transparent  and  blue 
— and  hovering  there  in  the  west,  a  mass  of  white-gray  fleecy 
clouds  the  sailors  call  "shoals  of  mackerel  " — the  sky,  with  sil- 
ver swirls  like  locks  of  toss'd  hair,  spreading,  expanding — a  vast 
voiceless,  formless  simulacrum — yet  may-be  the  most  real  reality 
and  formulator  of  everything — who  knows  ? 


SPECIMEN  DA  YS.  g0 

LOCUSTS  AND  KATYDIDS. 

Aug.  22. — Reedy  monotones  of  locust,  or  sounds  of  katydid 
— I  hear  the  latter  at  night,  and  the  other  both  day  and  night. 
I  thought  the  morning  and  evening  warble  of  birds  delightful ; 
but  I  find  I  can  listen  to  these  strange  insects  with  just  as  much 
pleasure.  A  single  locust  is  now  heard  near  noon  from  a  tree 
two  hundred  feet  off,  as  I  write — a  long  whirring,  continued, 
quite  loud  noise  graded  in  distinct  whirls,  or  swinging  circles, 
increasing  in  strength  and  rapidity  up  to  a  certain  point,  and 
then  a  fluttering,  quietly  tapering  fall.  Each  strain  is  continued 
from  one  to  two  minutes.  The  locust-song  is  very  appropriate 
to  the  scene — gushes,  has  meaning,  is  masculine,  is  like  some 
fine  old  wine,  not  sweet,  but  far  better  than  sweet. 

But  the  katydid — how  shall  I  describe  its  piquant  utterances  ? 
One  sings  from  a  willow-tree  just  outside  my  open  bedroom  win- 
dow, twenty  yards  distant;  every  clear  night  for  a  fortnight  past 
has  sooth' d  me  to  sleep.  I  rode  through  a  piece  of  woods  for  a 
hundred  rods  the  other  evening,  and  heard  the  katydids  by 
myriads — very  curious  for  once ;  but  I  like  better  my  single 
neighbor  on  the  tree. 

Let  me  say  more  about  the  song  of  the  locust,  even  to  repeti- 
tion ;  a  long,  chromatic,  tremulous  crescendo,  like  a  brass  disk 
whirling  round  and  round,  emitting  wave  after  wave  of  notes, 
beginning  with  a  certain  moderate  beat  or  measure,  rapidly  in- 
creasing in  speed  and  emphasis,  reaching  a  point  of  great  energy 
and  significance,  and  then  quickly  and  gracefully  dropping  down 
and  out.  Not  the  melody  of  the  singing-bird — far  from  it ;  the 
common  musician  might  think  without  melody,  but  surely  having 
to  the  finer  ear  a  harmony  of  its  own  ;  monotonous — but  what  a 
swing  there  is  in  that  brassy  drone,  round  and  round,  cymbal- 
line — or  like  the  whirling  of  brass  quoits. 

THE  LESSON  OF  A  TREE. 

Sept.  i. — I  should  not  take  either  the  biggest  or  the  most  pic- 
turesque tree  to  illustrate  it.  Here  is  one  of  my  favorites  now 
before  me,  a  fine  yellow  poplar,  quite  straight,  perhaps  90  feet 
high,  and  four  thick  at  the  butt.  How  strong,  vital,  enduring  ! 
how  dumbly  eloquent !  What  suggestions  of  imperturbability 
and  being,  as  against  the  human  trait  of  mere  seeming.  Then  the 
qualities,  almost  emotional,  palpably  artistic,  heroic,  of  a  tree;  so 
innocent  and  harmless,  yet  so  savage.  It  ts,  yet  says  nothing. 
How  it  rebukes  by  its  tough  and  equable  serenity  all  weathers, 
this  gusty-temper'd  little  whiffet,  man,  that  runs  indoors  at  a 
mite  of  rain  or  snow.  Science  (or  rather  half-way  science)  scoffs 
at  reminiscence  of  dryad  and  hamadryad,  and  of  trees  speaking. 

8 


90  SPECIMEN  DA  YS. 

But,  if  they  don't,  they  do  as  well  as  most  speaking,  writing, 
poetry,  sermons — or  rather  they  do  a  great  deal  better.  I  should 
say  indeed  that  those  old  dryad-reminiscences  are  quite  as  true 
as  any,  and  profounder  than  most  reminiscences  we  get.  ("  Cut 
this  out,"  as  the  quack  mediciners  say,  and  keep  by  you.)  Go 
and  sit  in  a  grove  or  woods,  with  one  or  more  of  those  voiceless 
companions,  and  read  the  foregoing,  and  think. 

One  lesson  from  affiliating  a  tree — perhaps  the  greatest  moral 
lesson  anyhow  from  earth,  rocks,  animals,  is  that  same  lesson  of 
inherency,  of  what  is,  without  the  least  regard  to  what  the  looker 
on  (the  critic)  supposes  or  says,  or  whether  he  likes  or  dislikes. 
What  worse — what  more  general  malady  pervades  each  and  all 
of  us,  our  literature,  education,  attitude  toward  each  other,  (even 
toward  ourselves,)  than  a  morbid  trouble  about  seems,  (gener- 
ally temporarily  seems  too,)  and  no  trouble  at  all,  or  hardly  any, 
about  the  sane,  slow-growing,  perennial,  real  parts  of  character, 
books,  friendship,  marriage — humanity's  invisible  foundations 
and  hold-together?  (As  the  all-basis,  the  nerve,  the  great-sym- 
pathetic, the  plenum  within  humanity,  giving  stamp  to  every- 
thing, is  necessarily  invisible.) 

Aug.  4,  6  p.m. — Lights  and  shades  and  rare  effects  on  tree- 
foliage  and  grass — transparent  greens,  grays,  &c,  all  in  sunset 
pomp  and  dazzle.  The  clear  beams*  are  now  thrown  in  many 
new  places,  on  the  quilted,  seam'd,  bronze-drab,  lower  tree- 
trunks,  shadow'd  except  at  this  hour — now  flooding  their  young 
and  old  columnar  ruggedness  with  strong  light,  unfolding  to  my 
sense  new  amazing  features  of  silent,  shaggy  charm,  the  solid 
bark,  the  expression  of  harmless  impassiveness,  with  many  a 
bulge  and  gnarl  unreck'd  before.  In  the  revealings  of  such 
light,  such  exceptional  hour,  such  mood,  one  does  not  wonder 
at  the  old  story  fables,  (indeed,  why  fables  ?)  of  people  falling  into 
love-sickness  with  trees,  seiz'd  extatic  with  the  mystic  realism  of 
the  resistless  silent  strength  in  them — strength,  which  after  all  is 
perhaps  the  last,  completest,  highest  beauty. 

Trees  I  am  familiar  with  here. 

Oaks,  (many  kinds — one   sturdy  ern  Illinois,  140  feet  high  and 

old  fellow,  vital,  green,  bushy,  8  feet  thick  at  the  butt* ;  does 

five  feet  thick  at  the  butt,  I  sit  not  transplant  well;  best  rais'd 

under  every  day.)  from    seeds  —  the    lumbermen 

Cedars,  plenty.  call  it  yellow  poplar.) 

Tulip  trees,  (Liriodendron,  is  of  Sycamores. 

the  magnolia   family — I    have  Gum-trees,  both  sweet  and  sour, 

seen  it  in  Michigan  and  south-  Beeches. 

*  There  is  a  tulip  poplar  within  sight  of  Woodstown,  which  is  twenty  feet 
around,  three  feet  from  the  ground,  four  feet  across  about  eighteen  feet  up  the 
trunk,  which  is  broken  off  about  three  or  four  feet  higher  up.     On  the  south 


SPECIMEN  DA  YS. 


91 


Black-walnuts.  Dogwood. 

Sassafras.  Pine. 

Willows.  the  Elm. 

Catalpas.  Chestnut. 

Persimmons.  Linden. 

Mountain-ash.  Aspen. 

Hickories.  Spruce. 

Maples,  many  kinds.  Hornbeam. 

Locusts.  Laurel. 

Birches.  Holly. 

AUTUMN  SIDE-BITS. 

Sept.  20. — Under  an  old  black  oak,  glossy  and  green,  exhaling 
aroma — amid  a  grove  the  Albic  druids  might  have  chosen — en- 
velop'd  in  the  warmth  and  light  of  the  noonday  sun,  and  swarms 
of  flitting  insects — with  the  harsh  cawing  of  many  crows  a  hun- 
dred rods  away — here  I  sit  in  solitude,  absorbing,  enjoying  all. 
The  corn,  stack'd  in  its  cone-shaped  stacks,  russet-color'd  and 
sere — a  large  field  spotted  thick  with  scarlet-gold  pumpkins — an 
adjoining  one  of  cabbages,  showing  well  in  their  green  and  pearl, 
mottled  by  much  light  and  shade — melon  patches,  with  their 
bulging  ovals,  and  great  silver-streak'd,  ruffled,  broad-edged 
leaves — and  many  an  autumn  sight  and  sound  beside — the  dis- 
tant scream  of  a  flock  of  guinea-hens — and  pour'd  over  all  the 
September  breeze,  with  pensive  cadence  through  the  tree  tops. 

Another  Day. — The  ground  in  all  directions  strew'd  with  de- 
bris from  a  storm.  Timber  creek,  as  I  slowly  pace  its  banks,  has 
ebb'd  low,  and  shows  reaction  from  the  turbulent  swell  of  the 
late  equinoctial.  As  I  look  around,  I  take  account  of  stock — 
weeds  and  shrubs,  knolls,  paths,  occasional  stumps,  some  with 
smooth' d  tops,  (several  I  use  as  seats  of  rest,  from  place  to  place, 
and  from  one  I  am  now  jotting  these  lines,) — frequent  wild- 
flowers,  little  white,  star-shaped  things,  or  the  cardinal  red  of  the 
lobelia,  or  the  cherry-ball  seeds  of  the  perennial  rose,  or  the 
many-threaded  vines  winding  up  and  around  trunks  of  trees. 

Oct.  1,  2  and  3. — Down  every  day  in  the  solitude  of  the  creek. 
A  serene  autumn  sun  and  westerly  breeze  to-day  (3d)  as  I  sit 
here,  the  water  surface  prettily  moving  in  wind-ripples  before 
me.  On  a  stout  old  beech  at  the  edge,  decayed  and  slanting, 
almost  fallen  to  the  stream,  yet  with  life  and  leaves  in  its  mossy 

side  an  arm  has  shot  out  from  which  rise  two  stems,  each  to  about  ninety- one 
or  ninety-two  feet  from  the  ground.  Twenty-five  (or  more)  years  since  the 
cavity  in  the  butt  was  large  enough  for,  and  nine  men  at  one  time,  ate  dinner 
therein.  It  is  supposed  twelve  to  fifteen  men  could  now,  at  one  time,  stand 
within  its  trunk.  The  severe  winds  of  1877  and  1878  did  not  seem  to  damage 
it,  and  the  two  stems  send  out  yearly  many  blossoms,  scenting  the  air  imme- 
diately about  it  with  their  sweet  perfume.  It  is  entirely  unprotected  by  other 
trees,  on  a  hill. —  Woodstown,  N.  y.,  "  Register"  April  ij,  ,rjg. 


2  SPECIMEN  DA  YS. 

limbs,  a  gray  squirrel,  exploring,  runs  up  and  down,  flirts  his 
tail,  leaps  to  the  ground,  sits  on  his  haunches  upright  as  he  sees 
me'  (a  Darwinian  hint?)  and  then  races  up  the  tree  again. 

Qctm  4.— Cloudy  and  coolish  j  signs  of  incipient  winter.  Yet 
pleasant  here,  the  leaves  thick-falling,  the  ground  brown  with 
them  already;  rich  coloring,  yellows  of  all  hues,  pale  and  dark- 
green,  shades  from  lightest  to  richest  red— all  set  in  and  toned 
down' by  the  prevailing  brown  of  the  earth  and  gray  of  the  sky. 
So,  winter  is  coming ;  and  I  yet  in  my  sickness.  I  sit  here  amid 
all  these  fair  sights  and  vital  influences,  and  abandon  myself  to 
that  thought,  with  its  wandering  trains  of  speculation. 

THE  SKY— DAYS  AND  NIGHTS— HAPPINESS. 

Oct  20. — A  clear,  crispy  day— dry  and  breezy  air,  full  of  oxy- 
gen. Out  of  the  sane,  silent,  beauteous  miracles  that  envelope 
and  fuse  me — trees,  water,  grass,  sunlight,  and  early  frost — the 
one  I  am  looking  at  most  to-day  is  the  sky.  It  has  that  delicate, 
transparent  blue,  peculiar  to  autumn,  and  the  only  clouds  are 
little  or  larger  white  ones,  giving  their  still  and  spiritual  motion 
to  the  great  concave.  All  through  the  earlier  day  (say  from  7 
to  11)  it  keeps  a  pure,  yet  vivid  blue.  But  as  noon  approaches 
the  color  gets  lighter,  quite  gray  for  two  or  three  hours — then 
still  paler  for  a  spell,  till  sun-down— which  last  I  watch  dazzling 
through  the  interstices  of  a  knoll  of  big  trees — darts  of  fire  and 
a  gorgeous  show  of  light-yellow,  liver-color  and  red,  with  a  vast 
silver  glaze  askant  on  the  water — the  transparent  shadows,  shafts, 
sparkle,  and  vivid  colors  beyond  all  the  paintings  ever  made. 

I  don't  know  what  or  how,  but  it  seems  to  me  mostly  owing 
to  these  skies,  (every  now  and  then  I  think,  while  I  have  of  course 
seen  them  every  day  of  my  life,  I  never  really  saw  the  skies  be- 
fore,) I  have  had  this  autumn  some  wondrously  contented  hours 
— may  I  not  say  perfectly  happy  ones  ?  As  I've  read,  Byron  just 
before  his  death  told  a  friend  that  he  had  known  but  three  happy 
hours  during  his  whole  existence.  Then  there  is  the  old  German 
legend  of  the  king's  bell,  to  the  same  point.  While  I  was  out 
there  by  the  wood,  that  beautiful  sunset  through  the  trees,  I 
thought  of  Byron's  and  the  bell  story,  and  the  notion  started  in 
me  that  I  was  having  a  happy  hour.  (Though  perhaps  my  best 
moments  I  never  jot  down ;  when  they  come  I  cannot  afford  to 
break  the  charm  by  inditing  memoranda.  I  just  abandon  my- 
self to  the  mood,  and  let  it  float  on,  carrying  me  in  its  placid 
extasy.) 

What  is  happiness,  anyhow?  Is  this  one  of  its  hours,  or  the 
like  of  it? — so  impalpable — a  mere  breath,  an  evanescent  tinge? 
I  am  not  sure — so  let  me  give  myself  the  benefit  of  the  doubt. 


SPECIMEN  DA  YS. 


93 


Hast  Thou,  pellucid,  in  Thy  azure  depths,  medicine  for  case  like 
mine  ?  (Ah,  the  physical  shatter  and  troubled  spirit  of  me  the 
last  three  years.)  And  dost  Thou  subtly  mystically  now  drip  it 
through  the  air  invisibly  upon  me? 

Night  of  Oct.  28. — The  heavens  unusually  transparent — the 
stars  out  by  myriads — the  great  path  of  the  Milky  Way,  with  its 
branch,  only  seen  of  very  clear  nights — Jupiter,  setting  in  the 
west,  looks  like  a  huge  hap-hazard  splash,  and  has  a  little  star  for 
companion. 

Clothed  in  his  white  garments, 

Into  the  round  and  clear  arena  slowly  entered  the  brahmin, 

Holding  a  little  child  by  the  hand, 

Like  the  moon  with  the  planet  Jupiter  in  a  cloudless  night-sky. 

Old  Hindu  Poem, 

Early  in  November. — At  its  farther  end  the  lane  already  de- 
scribed opens  into  a  broad  grassy  upland  field  of  over  twenty 
acres,  slightly  sloping  to  the  south.  Here  I  am  accustom'd  to 
walk  for  sky  views  and  effects,  either  morning  or  sundown.  To- 
day from  this  field  my  soul  is  calm'd  and  expanded  beyond  de- 
scription, the  whole  forenoon  by  the  clear  blue  arching  over  all, 
cloudless,  nothing  particular,  only  sky  and  daylight.  Their 
soothing  accompaniments,  autumn  leaves,  the  cool  dry  air,  the 
faint  aroma — crows  cawing  in  the  distance — two  great  buz- 
zards wheeling  gracefully  and  slowly  far  up  there — the  occasional 
murmur  of  the  wind,  sometimes  quite  gently,  then  threatening 
through  the  trees — a  gang  of  farm-laborers  loading  corn-stalks  in 
a  field  in  sight,  and  the  patient  horses  waiting. 

COLORS— A  CONTRAST. 

Such  a  play  of  colors  and  lights,  different  seasons,  different 
hours  of  the  day — the  lines  of  the  far  horizon  where  the  faint- 
tinged  edge  of  the  landscape  loses  itself  in  the  sky.  As  I  slowly 
hobble  up  the  lane  toward  day-close,  an  incomparable  sunset 
shooting  in  molten  sapphire  and  gold,  shaft  after  shaft,  through 
the  ranks  of  the  long-leaved  corn,  between  me  and  the  west. 

Another  day. — The  rich  dark  green  of  the  tulip-trees  and  the 
oaks,  the  gray  of  the  swamp-willows,  the  dull  hues  of  the  syca- 
mores and  black-walnuts,  the  emerald  of  the  cedars  (after  rain,) 
and  the  light  yellow  of  the  beeches. 

NOVEMBER  8,  '76. 

The  forenoon  leaden  and  cloudy,  not  cold  or  wet,  but  indica- 
ting both.  As  I  hobble  down  here  and  sit  by  the  silent  pond, 
how  different  from  the  excitement  amid  which,  in  the  cities, 
millions  of  people  are  now  waiting  news  of  yesterday's  Presi- 


94  SPECIMEN  DA  VS. 

dential  election,  or  receiving  and  discussing  the  result — in  this 
secluded  place  uncared-for,  unknown. 

CROWS  AND  CROWS. 
Nov.  14. — As  I  sit  here  by  the  creek,  resting  after  my  walk,  a 
warm  languor  bathes  me  from  the  sun.  No  sound  but  a  cawing 
of  crows,  and  no  motion  but  their  black  flying  figures  from  over- 
head, reflected  in  the  mirror  of  the  pond  below.  Indeed  a  prin- 
cipal feature  of  the  scene  to-day  is  these  crows,  their  incessant 
cawing,  far  or  near,  and  their  countless  flocks  and  processions 
moving  from  place  to  place,  and  at  times  almost  darkening  the 
air  with  their  myriads.  As  I  sit  a  moment  writing  this  by  the 
bank,  I  see  the  black,  clear-cut  reflection  of  them  far  below,  flying 
through  the  watery  looking-glass,  by  ones,  twos,  or  long  strings. 
All  last  night  I  heard  the  noises  from  their  great  roost  in  a  neigh- 
boring wood. 

A  WINTER  DAY  ON  THE  SEA-BEACH. 

One  bright  December  mid-day  lately  I  spent  down  on  the  New 
Jersey  sea-shore,  reaching  it  by  a  little  more  than  an  hour's 
railroad  trip  over  the  old  Camden  and  Atlantic.  I  had  started 
betimes,  fortified  by  nice  strong  coffee  and  a  good  breakfast 
(cook'd  by  the  hands  I  love,  my  dear  sister  Lou's — how  much 
better  it  makes  the  victuals  taste,  and  then  assimilate,  strengthen 
you,  perhaps  make  the  whole  day  comfortable  afterwards.)  Five 
or  six  miles  at  the  last,  our  track  enter' d  a  broad  region  of  salt 
grass  meadows,  intersected  by  lagoons,  and  cut  up  everywhere  by 
watery  runs.  The  sedgy  perfume,  delightful  to  my  nostrils,  re- 
minded me  of  "  the  mash  "  and  south  bay  of  my  native  island. 
I  could  have  journey'd  contentedly  till  night  through  these  flat 
and  odorous  sea-prairies.  From  half-past  1 1  till  2  I  was  nearly 
all  the  time  along  the  beach,  or  in  sight  of  the  ocean,  listening 
to  its  hoarse  murmur,  and  inhaling  the  bracing  and  welcome 
breezes.  First,  a  rapid  five-mile  drive  over  the  hard  sand — our 
carriage  wheels  hardly  made  dents  in  it.  Then  after  dinner  (as 
there  were  nearly  two  hours  to  spare)  I  walk'd  off  in  another  di- 
rection, (hardly  met  or  saw  a  person,)  and  taking  possession  of 
what  appear'd  to  have  been  the  reception-room  of  an  old  bath- 
house range,  had  a  broad  expanse  of  view  all  to  myself — quaint, 
refreshing,  unimpeded — a  dry  area  of  sedge  and  Indian  grass 
immediately  before  and  around  me — space,  simple,  unornamented 
space.  Distant  vessels,  and  the  far-off,  just  visible  trailing  smoke 
of  an  inward  bound  steamer  ;  more  plainly,  ships,  brigs,  schooners, 
in  sight,  most  of  them  with  every  sail  set  to  the  firm  and  steady 
wind. 

The  attractions,  fascinations  there  are  in  sea  and  shore !    How 


SPECIMEN  DA  YS. 


95 


one  dwells  on  their  simplicity,  even  vacuity  !  What  is  it  in  us, 
arous'd  by  those  indirections  and  directions  ?  That  spread  of 
waves  and  gray-white  beach,  salt,  monotonous,  senseless — such 
an  entire  absence  of  art,  books,  talk,  elegance — so  indescribably 
comforting,  even  this  winter  day — grim,  yet  so  delicate-looking, 
so  spiritual — striking  emotional,  impalpable  depths,  subtler  than 
all  the  poems,  paintings,  music,  I  have  ever  read,  seen,  heard. 
(Yet  let  me  be  fair,  perhaps  it  is  because  I  have  read  those  poems 
and  heard  that  music.) 

SEA-SHORE  FANCIES. 

Even  as  a  boy,  I  had  the  fancy,  the  wish,  to  write  a  piece,  per- 
haps a  poem,  about  the  sea-shore — that  suggesting,  dividing  line, 
contact,  junction,  the  solid  marrying  the  liquid — that  curious, 
lurking  something,  (as  doubtless  every  objective  form  finally  be- 
comes to  the  subjective  spirit,)  which  means  far  more  than  its 
mere  first  sight,  grand  as  that  is — blending  the  real  and  ideal, 
and  each  made  portion  of  the  other.  Hours,  days,  in  my  Long 
Island  youth  and  early  manhood,  I  haunted  the  snores  of  Rocka- 
way  or  Coney  island,  or  away  east  to  the  Hamptons  or  Montauk. 
Once,  at  the  latter  place,  (by  the  old  lighthouse,  nothing  but 
sea-tossings  in  sight  in  every  direction  as  far  as  the  eye  could 
reach,)  I  remember  well,  I  felt  that  I  must  one  day  write  a  book 
expressing  this  liquid,  mystic  theme.  Afterward,  I  recollect, 
how  it  came  to  me  that  instead  of  any  special  lyrical  or  epical  or 
literary  attempt,  the  sea-shore  should  be  an  invisible  itiflue?ice,  a 
pervading  gauge  and  tally  for  me,  in  my  composition.  (Let  me 
give  a  hint  here  to  young  writers.  I  am  not  sure  but  I  have  un- 
wittingly follow' d  out  the  same  rule  with  other  powers  besides 
sea  and  shores — avoiding  them,  in  the  way  of  any  dead  set  at 
poetizing  them,  as  too  big  for  formal  handling — quite  satisfied  if  I 
could  indirectly  show  that  we  have  met  and  fused,  even  if  only 
once,  but  enough — that  we  have  really  absorb' d  each  other  and 
understand  each  other.) 

There  is  a  dream,  a  picture,  that  for  years  at  intervals,  (some- 
times quite  long  ones,  but  surely  again,  in  time,)  has  come  noise- 
lessly up  before  me,  and  I  really  believe,  fiction  as  it  is,  has  enter'd 
largely  into  my  practical  life — certainly  into  my  writings,  and 
shaped  and  color'd  them.  It  is  nothing  more  or  less  than  a 
stretch  of  interminable  white-brown  sand,  hard  and  smooth  and 
broad,  with  the  ocean  perpetually,  grandly,  rolling  in  upon  it, 
with  slow-measured  sweep,  with  rustle  and  hiss  and  foam,  and 
many  a  thump  as  of  low  bass  drums.  This  scene,  this  picture,  I 
say,  has  risen  before  me  at  times  for  years.  Sometimes  I  wake  at 
night  and  can  hear  and  see  it  plainly. 


96 


SPECIMEN  DA  YS. 


IN  MEMORY  OF  THOMAS  PAINE. 

Spoken  at  Lincoln  Hall,  Philadelphia,  Sunday,  Jan.  z8,  '77,  for  140th  anniversary  of 

T.  P.'s  birth-day. 

Some  thirty-five  years  ago,  in  New  York  city,  at  Tammany 
hall,  of  which  place  I  was  then  a  frequenter,  I  happen'd  to  be- 
come quite  well  acquainted  with  Thomas  Paine's  perhaps  most 
intimate  chum,  and  certainly  his  later  years'  very  frequent  com- 
panion, a  remarkably  fine  old  man,  Col.  Fellows,  who  may  yet 
be  remember'd  by  some  stray  relics  of  that  period  and  spot.  If 
you  will  allow  me,  I  will  first  give  a  description  of  the  Colonel 
himself.  He  was  tall,  of  military  bearing,  aged  about  78  I  should 
think,  hair  white  as  snow,  clean-shaved  on  the  face,  dress'd  very 
neatly,  a  tail-coat  of  blue  cloth  with  metal  buttons,  buff  vest, 
pantaloons  of  drab  color,  and  his  neck,  breast  and  wrists  show- 
ing the  whitest  of  linen.  Under  all  circumstances,  fine  man- 
ners; a  good  but  not  profuse  talker,  his  wits  still  fully  about 
him,  balanced  and  live  and  undimm'd  as  ever.  He  kept  pretty 
fair  health,  though  so  old.  For  employment — for  he  was  poor — 
he  had  a  post  as  constable  of  some  of  the  upper  courts.  I  used 
to  think  him  very  picturesque  on  the  fringe  of  a  crowd  holding 
a  tall  staff,  with  his  erect  form,  and  his  superb,  bare,  thick- 
hair' d,  closely-cropt  white  head.  The  judges  and  young  lawyers, 
with  whom  he  was  ever  a  favorite,  and  the  subject  of  respect, 
used  to  call  him  Aristides.  It  was  the  general  opinion  among 
them  that  if  manly  rectitude  and  the  instincts  of  absolute  jus- 
tice remain'd  vital  anywhere  about  New  York  City  Hall,  or  Tam- 
many, they  were  to  be  found  in  Col.  Fellows.  He  liked  young 
men,  and  enjoy'd  to  leisurely  talk  with  them  over  a  social  glass 
of  toddy,  after  his  day's  work,  (he  on  these  occasions  never 
drank  but  one  glass,)  and  it  was  at  reiterated  meetings  of  this 
kind4n  old  Tammany's  back  parlor  of  those  days,  that  he  told 
me  much  about  Thomas  Paine.  At  one  of  our  interviews  he 
gave  me  a  minute  account  of  Paine's  sickness  and  death.  In 
short,  from  those  talks,  I  was  and  am  satisfied  that  my  old  friend, 
with  his  mark'd  advantages,  had  mentally,  morally  and  emotion- 
ally gauged  the  author  of  "  Common  Sense,"  and  besides  giving 
me  a  good  portrait  of  his  appearance  and  manners,  had  taken 
the  true  measure  of  his  interior  character. 

Paine's  practical  demeanor,  and  much  of  his  theoretical  be- 
lief, was  a  mixture  of  the  French  and  English  schools  of  a  cen- 
tury ago,  and  the  best  of  both.  Like  most  old-fashion'd  people, 
he  drank  a  glass  or  two  every  day,  but  was  no  tippler,  nor  intem- 
perate, let  alone  being  a  drunkard.  He  lived  simply  and  eco- 
nomically, but  quite  well — was  always  cheery  and  courteous,  per- 
haps occasionally  a  little  blunt,  having  very  positive  opinions 


SEE  CI  MEN  DA  YS.  9  7 

upon  politics,  religion,  and  so  forth.  That  he  labor'd  well  and 
wisely  for  the  States  in  the  trying  period  of  their  parturition,  and 
in  the  seeds  of  their  character,  there  seems  to  me  no  question. 
I  dare  not  say  how  much  of  what  our  Union  is  owning  and  en- 
joying to  day — its  independence — its  ardent  belief  in,  and  sub- 
stantial practice  of,  radical  human  rights — and  the  severance  of 
its  government  from  all  ecclesiastical  and  superstitious  dominion 
— I  dare  not  say  how  much  of  all  this  is  owing  to  Thomas  Paine, 
but  I  am  inclined  to  think  a  good  portion  of  it  decidedly  is. 

But  I  was  not  going  either  into  an  analysis  or  eulogium  of  the 
man.  I  wanted  to  carry  you  back  a  generation  or  two,  and  give 
you  by  indirection  a  moment's  glance — and  also  to  ventilate  a 
very  earnest  and  I  believe  authentic  opinion,  nay  conviction,  of 
that  time,  the  fruit  of  the  interviews  I  have  mention'd,  and  of 
questioning  and  cross-questioning,  clench'd  by  my  best  informa- 
tion since,  that  Thomas  Paine  had  a  noble  "personality,  as  exhib- 
ited in  presence,  face,  voice,  dress,  manner,  and  what  may  be 
call'd  his  atmosphere  and  magnetism,  especially  the  later  years 
of  his  life.  I  am  sure  of  it.  Of  the  foul  and  foolish  fictions  yet 
told  about  the  circumstances  of  his  decease,  the  absolute  fact  is 
that  as  he  lived  a  good  life,  after  its  kind,  he  died  calmly  and 
philosophically,  as  became  him.  He  served  the  embryo  Union 
with  most  precious  service — a  service  that  every  man,  woman 
and  child  in  our  thirty-eight  States  is  to  some  extent  receiving 
the  benefit  of  to-day — and  I  for  one  here  cheerfully,  reverently 
throw  my  pebble  on  the  cairn  of  his  memory.  As  we  all  know, 
the  season  demands — or  rather,  will  it  ever  be  out  of  season  ? — 
that  America  learn  to  better  dwell  on  her  choicest  possession, 
the  legacy  of  her  good  and  faithful  men — that  she  well  preserve 
their  fame,  if  unquestion'd — or,  if  need  be,  that  she  fail  not  to 
dissipate  what  clouds  have  intruded  on  that  fame,  and  burnish  it 
newer,  truer  and  brighter,  continually. 

A  TWO  HOURS'  ICE-SAIL. 
■Feb.jy  '77. — From  4  to  6  p.  m.  crossing  the  Delaware,  (back 
again  at  my  Camden  home,)  unable  to  make  our  landing,  through 
the  ice  ;  our  boat  stanch  and  strong  and  skilfully  piloted,  but 
old  and  sulky,  and  poorly  minding  her  helm.  {Power,  so  impor- 
tant in  poetry  and  war,  is  also  first  point  of  all  in  a  winter  steam- 
boat, with  long  stretches  of  ice-packs  to  tackle.)  For  over  two 
hours  we  bump'd  and  beat  about,  the  invisible  ebb,  sluggish  but 
irresistible,  often  carrying  us  long  distances  against  our  will.  In 
the  first  tinge  of  dusk,  as  I  look'd  around,  I  thought  there  could 
not  be  presented  a  more  chilling,  arctic,  grim-extended,  depress- 
ing scene.  Everything  was  yet  plainly  visible ;  for  miles  north 
and  south,  ice,  ice,  ice,  mostly  broken,  but  some  big  cakes,  and 

9 


98 


SPECIMEN  DA  VS. 


no  clear  water  in  sight.  The  shores,  piers,  surfaces,  roofs,  ship- 
ping, mantled  with  snow.  A  faint  winter  vapor  hung  a  fitting 
accompaniment  around  and  over  the  endless  whitish  spread,  and 
gave  it  just  a  tinge  of  steel  and  brown. 

Feb.  6. — As  I  cross  home  in  the  6  p.  m.  boat  again,  the  trans- 
parent shadows  are  filled  everywhere  with  leisurely  falling,  slightly 
slanting,  curiously  sparse  but  very  large,  flakes  of  snow.  On  the 
shores,  near  and  far,  the  glow  of  just-lit  gas-clusters  at  intervals. 
The  ice,  sometimes  in  hummocks,  sometimes  floating  fields, 
through  which  our  boat  goes  crunching.  The  light  permeated 
by  that  peculiar  evening  haze,  right  after  sunset,  which  sometimes 
renders  quite  distant  objects  so  distinctly. 

SPRING  OVERTURES— RECREATIONS. 

Feb.  io. — The  first  chirping,  almost  singing,  of  a  bird  to-day. 
Then  I  noticed  a  couple  of  honey-bees  spirting  and  humming 
about  the  open  window  in  the  sun. 

Feb.  ii. — In  the  soft  rose  and  pale  gold  of  the  declining  light, 
this  beautiful  evening,  I  heard  the  first  hum  and  preparation  of 
awakening  spring — very  faint — whether  in  the  earth  or  roots,  or 
starting  of  insects,  I  know  not — but  it  was  audible,  as  I  lean'd 
on  a  rail  (I  am  down  in  my  country  quarters  awhile,)  and  look'd 
long  at  the  western  horizon.  Turning  to  the  east,  Sirius,  as  the 
shadows  deepen'd,  came  forth  in  dazzling  splendor.  And  great 
Orion ;  and  a  little  to  the  north-east  the  big  Dipper,  standing 
on  end. 

Feb.  20. — A  solitary  and  pleasant  sundown  hour  at  the  pond, 
exercising  arms,  chest,  my  whole  body,  by  a  tough  oak  sapling 
thick  as  my  wrist,  twelve  feet  high — pulling  and  pushing,  inspir- 
ing the  good  air.  After  I  wrestle  with  the  tree  awhile,  I  can  feel 
its  young  sap  and  virtue  welling  up  out  of  the  ground  and  ting- 
ling through  me  from  crown  to  toe,  like  health's  wine.  Then 
for  addition  and  variety  I  launch  forth  in  my  vocalism ;  shout 
declamatory  pieces,  sentiments,  sorrow,  anger,  &c,  from  the 
stock  poets  or  plays — or  inflate  my  lungs  and  sing  the  wild  tunes 
and  refrains  I  heard  of  the  blacks  down  south,  or  patriotic  songs 
I  learn'd  in  the  army.  I  make  the  echoes  ring,  I  tell  you  !  As 
the  twilight  fell,  in  a  pause  of  these  ebullitions,  an  owl  somewhere 
the  other  side  of  the  creek  sounded  too-oo-oo-oo-oo,  soft  and  pen- 
sive (and  I  fancied  a  little  sarcastic)  repeated  four  or  five  times. 
Either  to  applaud  the  negro  songs — or  perhaps  an  ironical  com- 
ment on  the  sorrow,  anger,  or  style  of  the  stock  poets. 

ONE  OF  THE  HUMAN  KINKS. 
How  is  it  that  in  all  the  serenity  and  lonesomeness  of  solitude, 
away  off  here  amid  the  hush  of  the  forest,  alone,  or  as  I  have 


SPECIMEN  DA  VS. 


99 


found  in  prairie  wilds,  or  mountain  stillness,  one  is  never  entirely 
without  the  instinct  of  looking  around,  (I  never  am,  and  others 
tell  me  the  same  of  themselves,  confidentially,)  for  somebody  to 
appear,  or  start  up  out  of  the  earth,  or  from  behind  some  tree  or 
rock?  Is  it  a  lingering,  inherited  remains  of  man's  primitive 
wariness,  from  the  wild  animals  ?  or  from  his  savage  ancestry  far 
back?  It  is  not  at  all  nervousness  or  fear.  Seems  as  if  something 
unknown  were  possibly  lurking  in  those  bushes,  or  solitary  places. 
Nay,  it  is  quite  certain  there  is — some  vital  unseen  presence. 

AN  AFTERNOON  SCENE. 

Feb.  22. — Last  night  and  to-day  rainy  and  thick,  till  mid-after- 
noon, when  the  wind  chopp'd  round,  the  clouds  swiftly  drew  off 
like  curtains,  the  clear  appear'd,  and  with  it  the  fairest,  grandest, 
most  wondrous  rainbow  I  ever  saw,  all  complete,  very  vivid  at 
its  earth-ends,  spreading  vast  effusions  of  illuminated  haze,  violet, 
yellow,  drab-green,  in  all  directions  overhead,  through  which  the 
sun  beam'd — an  indescribable  utterance  of  color  and  light,  so 
gorgeous  yet  so  soft,  such  as  I  had  never  witness'd  before.  Then 
its  continuance:  a  full  hour  pass'd  before  the  last  of  those  earth- 
ends  disappear'd.  The  sky  behind  was  all  spread  in  translucent 
blue,  with  many  little  white  clouds  and  edges.  To  these  a  sun- 
set, filling,  dominating  the  esthetic  and  soul  senses,  sumptuously, 
tenderly,  full.  I  end  this  note  by  the  pond,  just  light  enough  to 
see,  through  the  evening  shadows,  the  western  reflections  in  its 
water-mirror  surface,  with  inverted  figures  of  trees.  I  hear  now 
and  then  theflup  of  a  pike  leaping  out,  and  rippling  the  water. 

THE  GATES  OPENING. 
April  6. — Palpable  spring  indeed,  or  the  indications  of  it.  I 
am  sitting  in  bright  sunshine,  at  the  edge  of  the  creek,  the  sur- 
face just  rippled  by  the  wind.  All  is  solitude,  morning  fresh- 
ness, negligence.  For  companions  my  two  kingfishers  sailing, 
winding,  darting,  dipping,  sometimes  capriciously  separate,  then 
flying  together.  I  hear  their  guttural  twittering  again  and  again ; 
for  awhile  "nothing  but  that  peculiar  sound.  As  noon  approaches 
other  birds  warm  up.  The  reedy  notes  of  the  robin,  and  a  mu- 
sical passage  of  two  parts,  one  a  clear  delicious  gurgle,  with  sev- 
eral other  birds  I  cannot  place.  To  which  is  join'd,  (yes,  I  just 
hear  it,)  one  low  purr  at  intervals  from  some  impatient  hylas  at 
the  pond-edge.  The  sibilant  murmur  of  a  pretty  stiff  breeze 
now  and  then  through  the  trees.  Then  a  poor  little  dead  leaf, 
long  frost-bound,  whirls  from  somewhere  up  aloft  in  one  wild 
escaped  freedom-spree  in  space  and  sunlight,  and  then  dashes 
down  to  the  waters,  which  hold  it  closely  and  soon  drown  it  out 
of  sight.     The  bushes  and  trees  are  yet  bare,  but  the  beeches  have 


IOO 


SPECIMEN  DA  YS. 


their  wrinkled  yellow  leaves  of  last  season's  foliage  largely  left, 
frequent  cedars  and  pines  yet  green,  and  the  grass  not  without 
proofs  of  coming  fulness.  And  over  all  a  wonderfully  fine  dome 
of  clear  blue,  the  play  of  light  coming  and  going,  and  great 
fleeces  of  white  clouds  swimming  so  silently. 

THE  COMMON  EARTH,  THE  SOIL. 

The  soil,  too — let  others  pen-and-ink  the  sea,  the  air,  (as  I  some- 
times try) — but  now  I  feel  to  choose  the  common  soil  for  theme — 
naught  else.  The  brown  soil  here,  (just  between  winter-close 
and  opening  spring  and  vegetation) — the  rain-shower  at  night, 
and  the  fresh  smell  next  morning — the  red  worms  wriggling  out 
of  the  ground — the  dead  leaves,  the  incipient  grass,  and  the  latent 
life  underneath — the  effort  to  start  something — already  in  shel- 
ter'd  spots  some  little  flowers — the  distant  emerald  show  of  win- 
ter wheat  and  the  rye-fields — the  yet  naked  trees,  with  clear  in- 
terstices, giving  prospects  hidden  in  summer — the  tough  fallow 
and  the  plow-team,  and  the  stout  boy  whistling  to  his  horses  for 
encouragement — and  there  the  dark  fat  earth  in  long  slanting 
stripes  upturn' d. 

BIRDS  AND  BIRDS  AND  BIRDS. 

A  little  later — bright  weather. — An  unusual  melodiousness, 
these  days,  (last  of  April  and  first  of  May)  from  the  blackbirds ; 
indeed  all  sorts  of  birds,  darting,  whistling,  hopping  or  perch'd 
on  trees.  Never  before  have  I  seen,  heard,  or  been  in  the  midst 
of,  and  got  so  flooded  and  saturated  with  them  and  their  perform- 
ances, as  this  current  month.  Such  oceans,  such  successions  of 
them.     Let  me  make  a  list  of  those  I  find  here  : 


Blackbirds  (plenty,) 

Ring  doves, 

Owls, 

Woodpeckers, 

King-birds, 

Crows  (plenty,) 

Wrens, 

Kingfishers, 

Quails, 

Turkey-buzzards, 

Hen-hawks, 

Yellow  birds, 

Thrushes, 

Reed  birds, 

Early  came  the 

Blue  birds, 

Killdeer, 

Plover, 

Robin, 

Woodcock, 


Meadow-larks  (plenty,) 

Cat-birds  (plenty,) 

Cuckoos, 

Pond  snipes  (plenty,) 

Cheewinks, 

Quawks, 

Ground  robins, 

Ravens, 

Gray  snipes, 

Eagles, 

High-holes, 

Herons, 

Tits, 

Woodpigeons. 

Meadow  lark, 
White-bellied  swallow, 
Sandpiper, 
Wilson's  thrush, 
Flicker. 


SPECIMEN  DA  VS.  101 

FULL-STARR'D  NIGHTS. 

May  21. — Back  in  Camden.  Again  commencing  one  of  those 
unusually  transparent,  full-starr'd,  blue-black  nights,  as  if  to 
show  that  however  lush  and  pompous  the  day  may  be,  there  is 
something  left  in  the  not-day  that  can  outvie  it.  The  rarest, 
finest  sample  of  long-drawn-out  clear-obscure,  from  sundown  to 
9  o'clock.  I  went  down  to  the  Delaware,  and  cross'd  and  cross'd. 
Venus  like  blazing  silver  well  up  in  the  west.  The  large  pale 
thin  crescent  of  the  new  moon,  half  an  hour  high,  sinking  languidly 
under  a  bar-sinister  of  cloud,  and  then  emerging.  Arcturus  right 
overhead.  A  faint  fragrant  sea-odor  wafted  up  from  the  south. 
The  gloaming,  the  temper' d  coolness,  with  every  feature  of  the 
scene,  indescribably  soothing  and  tonic — one  of  those  hours  that 
give  hints  to  the  soul,  impossible  to  put  in  a  statement.  (Ah, 
where  would  be  any  food  for  spirituality  without  night  and  the 
stars?)  The  vacant  spaciousness  of  the  air,  and  the  veil'd  blue 
of  the  heavens,  seem'd  miracles  enough. 

As  the  night  advanc'd  it  changed  its  spirit  and  garments  to 
ampler  stateliness.  I  was  almost  conscious  of  a  definite  pres- 
ence, Nature  silently  near.  The  great  constellation  of  the  Water- 
Serpent  stretch' d  its  coils  over  more  than  half  the  heavens.  The 
Swan  with  outspread  wings  was  flying  down  the  Milky  Way. 
The  northern  Crown,  the  Eagle,  Lyra,  all  up  there  in  their 
places.  From  the  whole  dome  shot  down  points  of  light,  rap- 
port with  me,  through  the  clear  blue-black.  All  the  usual  sense 
of  motion,  all  animal  life,  seem'd  discarded,  seem'd  a  fiction ;  a 
curious  power,  like  the  placid  rest  of  Egyptian  gods,  took  pos- 
session, none  the  less  potent  for  being  impalpable.  Earlier  I 
had  seen  many  bats,  balancing  in  the  luminous  twilight,  darting 
their  black  forms  hither  and  yon  over  the  river ;  but  now  they 
altogether  disappear'd.  The  evening  star  and  the  moon  had 
gone.  Alertness  and  peace  lay  calmly  couching  together  through 
the  fluid  universal  shadows. 

Aug.  26. — Bright  has  the  day  been,  and  my  spirits  an  equal 
forzando.  Then  comes  the  night,  different,  inexpressibly  pen- 
sive, with  its  own  tender  and  temper' d  splendor.  Venus  lingers 
in  the  west  with  a  voluptuous  dazzle  unshown  hitherto  this  sum- 
mer. Mars  rises  early,  and  the  red  sulky  moon,  two  days  past 
her  full;  Jupiter  at  night's  meridian,  and  the  long  curling- 
slanted  Scorpion  stretching  full  view  in  the  south,  Aretus-neck'd. 
Mars  walks  the  heavens  lord-paramount  now;  all  through  this 
month  I  go  out  after  supper  and  watch  for  him ;  sometimes  get- 
ting up  at  midnight  to  take  another  look  at  his  unparallel'd  lustre. 
(I  see  lately  an  astronomer  has  made  out  through  the  new  Wash- 
ington  telescope   that  Mars  has   certainly  one  moon,  perhaps 


io2  SPECIMEN  DA  YS. 

two.)     Pale  and  distant,  but  near  in  the  heavens,  Saturn  pre- 
cedes him. 

MULLEINS  AND  MULLEINS. 

Large,  placid  mulleins,  as  summer  advances,  velvety  in  tex- 
ture, of  a  light  greenish-drab  color,  growing  everywhere  in  the 
fields — at  first  earth's  big  rosettes  in  their  broad-leav'd  low  cluster- 
plants,  eight,  ten,  twenty  leaves  to  a  plant — plentiful  on  the  fal- 
low twenty-acre  lot,  at  the  end  of  the  lane,  and  especially  by 
the  ridge-sides  of  the  fences — then  close  to  the  ground,  but  soon 
springing  up — leaves  as  broad  as  my  hand,  and  the  lower  ones 
twice  as  long — so  fresh  and  dewy  in  the  morning — stalks  now  four 
or  five,  even  seven  or  eight  feet  high.  The  farmers,  I  find,  think 
the  mullein  a  mean  unworthy  weed,  but  I  have  grown  to  a  fond- 
ness for  it.  Every  object  has  its  lesson,  enclosing  the  suggestion 
of  everything  else — and  lately  I  sometimes  think  all  is  concen- 
trated for  me  in  these  hardy,  yellow-flower'd  weeds.  As  I  come 
down  the  lane  early  in  the  morning,  I  pause  before  their  soft 
wool-like  fleece  and  stem  and  broad  leaves,  glittering  with  count- 
less diamonds.  Annually  for  three  summers  now,  they  and  I 
have  silently  return'd  together  ;  at  such  long  intervals  I  stand  or 
sit  among  them,  musing — and  woven  with  the  rest,  of  so  many 
hours  and  moods  of  partial  rehabilitation — of  my  sane  or  sick 
spirit,  here  as  near  at  peace  as  it  can  be. 

DISTANT  SOUNDS. 

The  axe  of  the  wood-cutter,  the  measured  thud  of  a  single 
threshing-flail,  the  crowing  of  chanticleer  in  the  barn-yard,  (with 
invariable  responses  from  other  barn-yards,)  and  the  lowing  of 
cattle — but  most  of  all,  or  far  or  near,  the  wind — through  the 
high  tree-tops,  or  through  low  bushes,  laving  one's  face  and 
hands  so  gently,  this  balmy-bright  noon,  the  coolest  for  a  long 
time,  (Sept.  2) — I  will  not  call  it  sighing,  for  to  me  it  is  always  a 
firm,  sane,  cheery  expression,  though  a  monotone,  giving  many 
varieties,  or  swift  or  slow,  or  dense  or  delicate.  The  wind  in  the 
patch  of  pine  woods  off  there — how  sibilant.  Or  at  sea,  I  can 
imagine  it  this  moment,  tossing  the  waves,  with  spirts  of  foam 
flying  far,  and  the  free  whistle,  and  the  scent  of  the  salt — and 
that  vast  paradox  somehow  with  all  its  action  and  restlessness 
conveying  a  sense  of  eternal  rest. 

Other  adjuncts. — But  the  sun  and  moon  here  and  these  times. 
As  never  more  wonderful  by  day,  the  gorgeous  orb  imperial,  so 
vast,  so  ardently,  lovingly  hot — so  never  a  more  glorious  moon 
of  nights,  especially  the  last  three  or  four.  The  great  planets  too 
— Mars  never  before  so  flaming  bright,  so  flashing-large,  with 
slight  yellow  tinge,  (the  astronomers  say — is  it  true  ? — nearer  to 


SPECIMEN  DA  YS.  ^3 

us  than  any  time  the  past  century) — and  well  up,  lord  Jupiter, 
(a  little  while  since  close  by  the  moon) — and  in  the  west,  after 
the  sun  sinks,  voluptuous  Venus,  now  languid  and  shorn  of  her 
beams,  as  if  from  some  divine  excess. 

A  SUN-BATH— NAKEDNESS. 

Sunday,  Aug.  27. — Another  day  quite  free  from  mark'd  pros- 
tration and  pain.  It  seems  indeed  as  if  peace  and  nutriment 
from  heaven  subtly  filter  into  me  as  I  slowly  hobble  down  these 
country  lanes  and  across  fields,  in  the  good  air — as  I  sit  here  in 
solitude  with  Nature — open,  voiceless,  mystic,  far  removed,  yet 
palpable,  eloquent  Nature.  I  merge  myself  in  the  scene,  in  the 
perfect  day.  Hovering  over  the  clear  brook-water,  I  am  sooth'd 
by  its  soft  gurgle  in  one  place,  and  the  hoarser  murmurs  of  its 
three-foot  fall  in  another.  Come,  ye  disconsolate,  in  whom  any 
latent  eligibility  is  left — come  get  the  sure  virtues  of  creek-shore, 
and  wood  and  field.  Two  months  (July  and  August,  '77,)  have 
I  absorb' d  them,  and  they  begin  to  make  a  new  man  of  me. 
Every  day,  seclusion — every  day  at  least  two  or  three  hours  of 
freedom,  bathing,  no  talk,  no  bonds,  no  dress,  no  books,  no  man- 
ners. 

Shall  I  tell  you,  reader,  to  what  I  attribute  my  already  much-re- 
stored health  ?  That  I  have  been  almost  two  years,  off  and  on, 
without  drugs  and  medicines,  and  daily  in  the  open  air.  Last 
summer  I  found  a  particularly  secluded  little  dell  off  one  side  by 
my  creek,  originally  a  large  dug-out  marl-pit,  now  abandon' d,  fill'd 
with  bushes,  trees,  grass,  a  group  of  willows,  a  straggling  bank, 
and  a  spring  of  delicious  water  running  right  through  the  middle 
of  it,  with  two  or  three  little  cascades.  Here  I  retreated  every 
hot  day,  and  follow  it  up  this  summer.  Here  I  realize  the  mean- 
ing of  that  old  fellow  who  said  he  was  seldom  less  alone  than 
when  alone.  Never  before  did  I  get  so  close  to  Nature;  never 
before  did  she  come  so  close  to  me.  By  old  habit,  I  pencill'd 
down  from  to  time  to  time,  almost  automatically,  moods,  sights, 
hours,  tints  and  outlines,  on  the  spot.  Let  me  specially  record 
the  satisfaction  of  this  current  forenoon,  so  serene  and  primi- 
tive, so  conventionally  exceptional,  natural.  - 

An  hour  or  so  after  breakfast  I  wended  my  way  down  to  the 
recesses  of  the  aforesaid  dell,  which  I  and  certain  thrushes,  cat- 
birds, &c,  had  all  to  ourselves.  A  light  south-west  wind  was 
blowing  through  the  tree-tops.  It  was  just  the  place  and  time 
for  my  Adamic  air-bath  and  flesh-brushing  from  head  to  foot.  So 
hanging  clothes  on  a  rail  near  by,  keeping  old  broadbrim  straw 
on  head  and  easy  shoes  on  feet,  havn't  I  had  a  good  time  the 
last  two  hours  !     First  with  the  stiff-elastic  bristles  rasping  arms, 


io4 


SPECIMEN  DA  VS. 


breast,  sides,  till  they  turn'd  scarlet — then  partially  bathing  in  the 
clear  waters  of  the  running  brook — taking  everything  very  leis- 
urely, with  many  rests  and  pauses — stepping  about  barefooted 
every  few  minutes  now  and  then  in  some  neighboring  black  ooze, 
for  unctuous  mud-bath  to  my  feet — a  brief  second  and  third 
rinsing  in  the  crystal  running  waters — rubbing  with  the  fragrant 
towel — slow  negligent  promenades  on  the  turf  up  and  down  in 
the  sun,  varied  with  occasional  rests,  and  further  frictions  of  the 
bristle-brush^-sometimes  carrying  my  portable  chair  with  me 
from  place  to  place,  as  my  range  is  quite  extensive  here,  nearly 
a  hundred  rods,  feeling  quite  secure  from  intrusion,  (and  that 
indeed  I  am  not  at  all  nervous  about,  if  it  accidentally  happens.) 

As  I  walk'd  slowly  over  the  grass,  the  sun  shone  out  enough 
to  show  the  shadow  moving  with  me.  Somehow  I  seem'd  to  get 
identity  with  each  and  every  thing  around  me,  in  its  condition. 
Nature  was  naked,  and  I  was  also.  It  was  too  lazy,  soothing, 
and  joyous-equable  to  speculate  about.  Yet  I  might  have 
thought  somehow  in  this  vein  :  Perhaps  the  inner  never  lost  rap- 
port we  hold  with  earth,  light,  air,  trees,  &c,  is  not  to  be  real- 
ized through  eyes  and  mind  only,  but  through  the  whole  corpo- 
real body,  which  I  will  not  have  blinded  or  bandaged  any  more 
than  the  eyes.  Sweet,  sane,  still  Nakedness  in  Nature  ! — ah  if 
poor,  sick,  prurient  humanity  in  cities  might  really  know  you 
once  more!  Is  not  nakedness  then  indecent?  No, "not  inhe- 
rently. It  is  your  thought,  your  sophistication,  your  fear,  your 
respectability,  that  is  indecent.  There  come  moods  when  these 
clothes  of  ours  are  not  only  too  irksome  to  wear,  but  are  them- 
selves indecent.  Perhaps  indeed  he  or  she  to  whom  the  free  ex- 
hilarating extasy  of  nakedness  in  Nature  has  never  been  eligible 
(and  how  many  thousands  there  are  !)  has  not  really  known  what 
purity  is — nor  what  faith  or  art  or  health  really  is.  (Probably 
the  whole  curriculum  of  first-class  philosophy,  beauty,  heroism, 
form,  illustrated  by  the  old  Hellenic  race — the  highest  height 
and  deepest  depth  known  to  civilization  in  those  departments — 
came  from  their  natural  and  religious  idea  of  Nakedness.) 

Many  such  hours,  from  time  to  time,  the  last  two  summers — 
I  attribute  my  partial  rehabilitation  largely  to  them.  Some  good 
people  may  think  it  a  feeble  or  half-crack'd  way  of  spending 
one's  time  and  thinking.     May-be  it  is. 

THE  OAKS  AND  I. 

Sept.  5,  '77. — I  write  this,  11  a.  m.,  shelter'd  under  a  dense  oak 
by  the  bank,  where  I  have  taken  refuge  from  a  sudden  rain.  I 
came  down  here,  (we  had  sulky  drizzles  all  the  morning,  but  an 
hour  ago  a  lull,)  for  the  before-mention'd  daily  and  simple  exer- 


SPECIMEN  DA  VS. 


I05 


cise  I  am  fond  of — to  pull  on  that  young  hickory  sapling  out 
there — to  sway  and  yield  to  its  tough-limber  upright  stem — haply 
to  get  into  my  old  sinews  some  of  its  elastic  fibre  and  clear  sap. 
I  stand  on  the  turf  and  take  these  health-pulls  moderately  and  at 
intervals  for  nearly  an  hour,  inhaling  great  draughts  of  fresh  air. 
Wandering  by  the  creek,  I  have  three  or  four  naturally  favorable 
spots  where  I  rest — besides  a  chair  I  lug  with  me  and  use  for 
more  deliberate  occasions.  At  other  spots  convenient  I  have  se- 
lected, besides  the  hickory  just  named,  strong  and  limber  boughs 
of  beech  or  holly,  in  easy-reaching  distance,  for  my  natural 
gymnasia,  for  arms,  chest,  trunk- muscles.  I  can  soon  feel  the 
sap  and  sinew  rising  through  me,  like  mercury  to  heat.  I  hold 
on  boughs  or  slender  trees  caressingly  there  in  the  sun  and  shade, 
wrestle  with  their  innocent  stalwartness — and  know  the  virtue 
thereof  passes  from  them  into  me.  (Or  may-be  we  interchange 
« — may-be  the  trees  are  more  aware  of  it  all  than  I  ever  thought.) 
But  now  pleasantly  imprison'd  here  under  the  big  oak — the 
rain  dripping,  and  the  sky  cover'd  with  leaden  clouds— nothing 
but  the  pond  on  one  side,  and  the  other  a  spread  of  grass,  spot- 
ted with  the  milky  blossoms  of  the  wild  carrot — the  sound  of  an 
axe  wielded  at  some  distant  wood-pile — yet  in  this  dull  scene,  (as 
most  folks  would  call  it,)  why  am  I  so  (almost)  happy  here  and 
alone?  Why  would  any  intrusion,  even  from  people  I  like,  spoil 
the  charm  ?  But  am  I  alone  ?  Doubtless  there  comes  a  time — 
perhaps  it  has  come  to  me — when  one  feels  through  his  whole 
being,  and  pronouncedly  the  emotional  part,  that  identity  be- 
tween himself  subjectively  and  Nature  objectively  which  Schell- 
ing  and  Fichte  are  so  fond  of  pressing.  How  it  is  I  know  not, 
but  I  often  realize  a  presence  here — in  clear  moods  I  am  certain 
of  it,  and  neither  chemistry  nor  reasoning  nor  esthetics  will  give 
the  least  explanation.  All  the  past  two  summers  it  has  been 
strengthening  and  nourishing  my  sick  body  and  soul,  as  never 
before.  Thanks,  invisible  physician,  for  thy  silent  delicious  medi- 
cine, thy  day  and  night,  thy  waters  and  thy  airs,  the  banks,  the 
grass,  the  trees,  and  e'en  the  weeds ! 

A  QUINTETTE. 
While  I  have  been  kept  by  the  rain  under  the  shelter  of  my 
great  oak,  (perfectly  dry  and  comfortable,  to  the  rattle  of  the 
drops  all  around,)  I  have  pencill'd  off  the  mood  of  the  hour  in  a 
little  quintette,  which  I  will  give  you : 

At  vacancy  with  Nature, 
Acceptive  and  at  ease, 
Distilling  the  present  hour, 
Whatever,  wherever  it  is, 
And  over  the  past,  oblivion. 


io6  SPECIMEN  DA  YS. 

Can  you  get  hold  of  it,  reader  dear  ?  and  how  do  you  like  it 

anyhow? 

THE  FIRST  FROST— MEMS. 

Where  I  was  stopping  I  saw  the  first  palpable  frost,  on  my  sun- 
rise walk,  October  6 ;  all  over  the  yet-green  spread  a  light  blue- 
gray  veil,  giving  a  new  show  to  the  entire  landscape.  I  had  but 
little  time  to  notice  it,  for  the  sun  rose  cloudless  and  mellow- 
warm,  and  as  I  returned  along  the  lane  it  had  turn'd  to  glittering 
patches  of  wet.  As  I  walk  I  notice  the  bursting  pods  of  wild- 
cotton,  (Indian  hemp  they  call  it  here,)  with  flossy-silky  contents, 
and  dark  red-brown  seeds — a  startled  rabbit — I  pull  a  handful 
of  the  balsamic  life-everlasting  and  stuff  it  down  in  my  trowsers- 
pocket  for  scent. 

THREE  YOUNG  MEN'S  DEATHS. 

December  20. — Somehow  I  got  thinking  to-day  of  young 
men's  deaths — not  at  all  sadly  or  sentimentally,  but  gravely, 
realistically.,  perhaps  a  little  artistically.  Let  me  give  the  follow- 
ing three  cases  from  budgets  of  personal  memoranda,  which  I 
have  been  turning  over,  alone  in  my  room,  and  resuming  and 
dwelling  on,  this  rainy  afternoon.  Who  is  there  to  whom  the 
theme  does  not  come  home  ?  Then  I  don't  know  how  it  may  be 
to  others,  but  to  me  not  only  is  there  nothing  gloomy  or  depress- 
ing in  such  cases — on  the  contrary,  as  reminiscences,  I  find  them 
soothing,  bracing,  tonic. 

Erastus  Haskell. — [I  just  transcribe  verbatim  from  a  letter 
written  by  myself  in  one  of  the  army  hospitals,  16  years  ago, 
during  the  secession  war.]  Washington,  July  28,  iSSj. — Dear 
M., — I  am  writing  this  in  the  hospital,  sitting  by  the  side  of  a 
soldier,  I  do  not  expect  to  last  many  hours.  His  fate  has  been  a 
hard  one — he  seems  to  be  only  about  19  or  20 — Erastus  Haskell, 
company  K,  141st  N.  Y. — has  been  out  about  a  year,  and  sick 
or  half-sick  more  than  half  that  time — has  been  down  on  the 
peninsula — was  detail'd  to  go  in  the  band  as  fifer-boy.  While 
sick,  the  surgeon  told  him  to  keep  up  with  the  rest — (probably 
work'd  and  march'd  too  long.)  He  is  a  shy,  and  seems  to  me 
a  very  sensible  boy — has  fine  manners — never  complains — was 
sick  down  on  the  peninsula  in  an  old  storehouse — typhoid  fever. 
The  first  week  this  July  was  brought  up  here — journey  very  bad, 
no  accommodations,  no  nourishment,  nothing  but  hard  jolting, 
and  exposure  enough  to  make  a  well  man  sick ;  (these  fearful 
journeys  do  the  job  for  many) — arrived  here  July  nth — a  silent 
dark-skinn'd  Spanish-looking  youth,  with  large  very  dark  blue 
eyes,  peculiar  looking.  Doctor  F.  here  made  light  of  his  sick- 
ness— said  he  would  recover  soon,  &c. ;  but  I  thought  very  differ- 


SPECIMEN  DA  YS.  107 

ent,  and  told  F.  so  repeatedly;  (I  came  near  quarreling  with  him 
about  it  from  the  first) — but  he  laugh'd,  and  would  not  listen  to 
me.  About  four  days  ago,  I  told  Doctor  he  would  in  my  opinion 
lose  the  boy  without  doubt — but  F.  again  laugh'd  at  me.  The 
next  day  he  changed  his  opinion — I  brought  the  head  surgeon 
of  the  post — he  said  the  boy  would  probably  die,  but  they  would 
make  a  hard  fight  for  him. 

The  last  two  days  he  has  been  lying  panting  for  breath — a  piti- 
ful sight.  I  have  been  with  him  some  every  day  or  night  since 
he  arrived.  He  suffers  a  great  deal  with  the  heat — says  little  or 
nothing — is  flighty  the  last  three  days,  at  times — knows  me  al- 
ways, however — calls  me  "  Walter" — (sometimes  calls  the  name 
over  and  over  and  over  again,  musingly,  abstractedly,  to  himself.) 
His  father  lives  at  Breesport,  Chemung  county,  N.  Y.,  is  a  me- 
chanic with  large  family — is  a  steady,  religious  man  ;  his  mother 
too  is  living.  I  have  written  to  them,  and  shall  write  again  to- 
day— Erastus  has  not  receiv'd  a  word  from  home  for  months. 

As  I  sit  here  writing  to  you,  M.,  I  wish  you  could  see  the 
whole  scene.  This  young  man  lies  within  reach  of  me,  flat  on 
his  back,  his  hands  clasp'd  across  his  breast,  his  thick  black  hair 
cut  close ;  he  is  dozing,  breathing  hard,  every  breath  a  spasm — 
it  looks  so  cruel.  He  is  a  noble  youngster, — I  consider  him  past 
all  hope.  Often  there  is  no  one  with  him  for  a  long  while.  I 
am  here  as  much  as  possible. 

William  Alcott,  fireman.  Camden,  Nov.,  1874. — Last  Monday 
afternoon  his  widow,  mother,  relatives,  mates  of  the  fire  depart- 
ment, and  his  other  friends,  (I  was  one,  only  lately  it  is  true, 
but  our  love  grew  fast  and  clcfce,  the  days  and  nights  of  those 
eight  weeks  by  the  chair  of  rapid  decline,  and  the  bed  of  death,) 
gather'd  to  the  funeral  of  this  young  man,  who  had  grown  up, 
and  was  well-known  here.  With  nothing  special,  perhaps,  to 
record,  I  would  give  a  word  or  two  to  his  memory.  He  seem'd 
to  me  not  an  inappropriate  specimen  in  character  and  elements, 
of  that  bulk  of  the  average  good  American  race  that  ebbs  and 
flows  perennially  beneath  this  scum  of  eructations  on  the  surface. 
Always  very  quiet  in  manner,  neat  in  person  and  dress,  good 
temper'd — punctual  and  industrious  at  his  work,  till  he  could 
work  no  longer — he  just  lived  his  steady,  square,  unobtrusive 
life,  in  its  own  humble  sphere,  doubtless  unconscious  of  itself. 
(Though  I  think  there  were  currents  of  emotion  and  intellect  un- 
develop'd  beneath,  far  deeper  than  his  acquaintances  ever  sus- 
pected— or  than  he  himself  ever  did.)  He  was  no  talker.  His 
troubles,  when  he  had  any,  he  kept  to  himself.  As  there  was 
nothing  querulous  about  him  in  life,  he  made  no  complaints 
during  his  last  sickness.     He  was  one  of  those  persons  that  while 


I08  SPECIMEN  DAYS. 

his  associates  never  thought  of  attributing  any  particular  talent  or 
grace  to  him,  yet  all  insensibly,  really,  liked  Billy  Alcott. 

I,  too,  loved  him.  At  last,  after  being  with  him  quite  a  good 
deal — after  hours  and  days  of  panting  for  breath,  much  of  the 
time  unconscious,  (for  though  the  consumption  that  had  been 
lurking  in  his  system,  once  thoroughly  started,  made  rapid  prog- 
ress, there  was  still  great  vitality  in  him,  and  indeed  for  four  or 
five  days  he  lay  dying,  before  the  close,)  late  on  Wednesday 
night,  Nov.  4th,  where  we  surrounded  his  bed  in  silence,  there 
came  a  lull — a  longer  drawn  breath,  a  pause,  a  faint  sigh — another 
— a  weaker  breath,  another  sigh — a  pause  again  and  just  a  trem- 
ble— and  the  face  of  the  poor  wasted  young  man  (he  was  just  26,) 
fell  gently  over,  in  death,  on  my  hand,  on  the  pillow. 

Charles  Caswell. — [I  extract. the  following,  verbatim,  from 
a  letter  to  me  dated  September  29,  from  my  friend  John  Bur- 
roughs, at  Esopus-on-Hudson,  New  York  State.]  S.  was  away 
when  your  picture  came,  attending  his  sick  brother,  Charles — 
who  has  since  died — an  event  that  has  sadden'd  me  much. 
Charlie  was  younger  than  S.,  and  a  most  attractive  young  fellow. 
He  work'd  at  my  father's,  and  had  done  so  for  two  years.  He 
was  about  the  best  specimen  of  a  young  country  farm-hand  I  ever 
knew.  You  would  have  loved  him.  He  was  like  one  of  your 
poems.  With  his  great  strength,  his  blond  hair,  his  cheerfulness 
and  contentment,  his  universal  good  will,  and  his  silent  manly 
ways,  he  was  a  youth  hard  to  match.  He  was  murder'd  by  an 
old  doctor.  He  had  typhoid  fever,  and  the  old  fool  bled  him 
twice.  He  lived  to  wear  out  the  fever,  but  had  not  strength  to 
rally.  He  was  out  of  his  head  nearly  all  the  time.  In  the  morn- 
ing, as  he  died  in  the  afternoon,  S.  was  standing  over  him,  when 
Charlie  put  up  his  arms  around  S.'s  neck,  and  pull'd  his  face 
down  and  kiss'd  him.  S.  said  he  knew  then  the  end  was  near. 
(S.  stuck  to  him  day  and  night  to  the  last.)  When  I  was  home 
in  August,  Charlie  was  cradling  on  the  hill,  and  it  was  a  picture 
to  see  him  walk  through  the  grain.  All  work  seem'd  play  to 
him.  He  had  no  vices,  any  more  than  Nature  has,  and  was  be- 
lov'd  by  all  who  knew  him. 

I  have  written  thus  to  you  about  him,  for  such  young  men  be- 
long to  you  ;  he  was  of  your  kind.  I  wish  you  could  have  known 
him.  He  had  the  sweetness  of  a  child,  and  the  strength  and 
courage  and  readiness  of  a  young  Viking.  His  mother  and  father 
are  poor ;  they  have  a  rough,  hard  farm.  His  mother  works  in 
the  field  with  her  husband  when  the  work  presses.  She  has  had 
twelve  children. 

FEBRUARY  DAYS. 

February  7,  1878.— Glistening  sun  to-day,  with  slight  haze, 
warm  enough,  and  yet  tart,  as  I  sit  here  in  the  open  air,  down 


SPECIMEN  DA  VS. 


109 


in  my  country  retreat,  under  an  old  cedar.  For  two  hours  I 
have  been  idly  wandering  around  the  woods  and  pond,  lugging 
my  chair,  picking  out  choice  spots  to  sit  awhile — then  up  and 
slowly  on  again.  All  is  peace  here.  Of  course,  none  of  the 
summer  noises  or  vitality;  to-day  hardly  even  the  winter  ones. 
I  amuse  myself  by  exercising  my  voice  in  recitations,  and  in 
ringing  the  changes  on  all  the  vocal  and  alphabetical  sounds.  Not 
even  an  echo  ;  only  the  cawing  of  a  solitary  crow,  flying  at  some 
distance.  The  pond  is  one  bright,  flat  spread,  without  a  ripple — 
a  vast  Claude  Lorraine  glass,  in  which  I  study  the  sky,  the  light, 
the  leafless  trees,  and  an  occasional  crow,  with  flapping  wings, 
flying  overhead.  The  brown  fields  have  a  few  white  patches  of 
snow  left. 

Feb.  p. — After  an  hour's  ramble,  now  retreating,  resting,  sit- 
ting close  by  the  pond,  in  a  warm  nook,  writing  this,  shelter' d 
from  the  breeze,  just  before  noon.  The  emotional  aspects  and 
influences  of  Nature !  I,  too,  like  the  rest,  feel  these  modern 
tendencies  (from  all  the  prevailing  intellections,  literature  and 
poems,)  to  turn  everything  to  pathos,  ennui,  morbidity,  dissatis- 
faction, death.  Yet  how  clear  it  is  to  me  that  those  are  not  the 
born  results,  influences  of  Nature  at  all,  but  of  one's  own  dis- 
torted, sick  or  silly  soul.  Here,  amid  this  wild,  free  scene,  how 
healthy,  how  joyous,  how  clean  and  vigorous  and  sweet ! 

Mid-afternoon. — One  of  my  nooks  is  south  of  the  barn,  and 
here  I  am  sitting  now,  on  a  log,  still  basking  in  the  sun,  shielded 
from  the  wind.  Near  me  are  the  cattle,  feeding  on  corn-stalks. 
Occasionally  a  cow  or  the  young  bull  (how  handsome  and  bold 
he  is  !)  scratches  and  munches  the  far  end  of  the  log  on  which  I 
sit.  The  fresh  milky  odor  is  quite  perceptible,  also  the  perfume 
of  hay  from  the  barn.  The  perpetual  rustle  of  dry  corn-stalks, 
the  low  sough  of  the  wind  round  the  barn  gables,  the  grunting 
of  pigs,  the  distant  whistle  of  a  locomotive,  and  occasional  crow- 
ing of  chanticleers,  are  the  sounds. 

Feb.  19. — Cold  and  sharp  last  night— clear  and  not  much 
wind — the  full  moon  shining,  and  a  fine  spread  of  constellations 
and  little  and  big  stars — Sirius  very  bright*  rising  early,  preceded 
by  many-orb'd  Orion,  glittering,  vast,  sworded,  and  chasing  with 
his  dog.  The  earth  hard  frozen,  and  a  stiff  glare  of  ice  over  the 
pond.  Attracted  by  the  calm  splendor  of  the  night,  I  attempted 
a  short  walk,  but  was  driven  back  by  the  cold.  Too  -severe  for 
me  also  at  9  o'clock,  when  I  came  out  this  morning,  so  I  turn'd 
back  again.  But  now,  near  noon,  I  have  walk'd  down  the  lane, 
basking  all  the  way  in  the  sun  (this  farm  has  a  pleasant  southerly 
exposure,)  and  here  I  am,  seated  under  the  lee  of  a  bank,  close 
by  the  water.     There  are  blue-birds  already  flying  about,  and  I 


!  x  o  SPECIMEN  DA  YS. 

hear  much  chirping  and  twittering  and  two  or  three  real  songs, 
sustain'd  quite  awhile,  in  the  mid-day  brilliance  and  warmth. 
(There  !  that  is  a  true  carol,  coming  out  boldly  and  repeatedly, 
as  if  the  singer  meant  it.)  Then  as  the  noon  strengthens,  the 
reedy  trill  of  the  robin — to  my  ear  the  most  cheering  of  bird- 
notes.  At  intervals,  like  bars  and  breaks  (out  of  the  low  murmur 
that  in  any  scene,  however  quiet,  is  never  entirely  absent  to  a 
delicate  ear,)  the  occasional  crunch  and  cracking  of  the  ice-glare 
congeal'd  over  the  creek,  as  it  gives  way  to  the  sunbeams — some- 
times with  low  sigh — sometimes  with  indignant,  obstinate  tug 
and  snort. 

(Robert  Burns  says  in  one  of  his  letters  :  "  There  is  scarcely 
any  earthly  object  gives  me  more — I  do  not  know  if  I  should 
call  it  pleasure — but  something  which  exalts  me — something 
which  enraptures  me — than  to  walk  in  the  shelter'd  side  of  a 
wood  in  a  cloudy  winter  day,  and  hear  the  stormy  wind  howling 
among  the  trees,  and  raving  over  the  plain.  It  is  my  best  season 
of  devotion."  Some  of  his  most  characteristic  poems  were  com- 
posed in  such  scenes  and  seasons.) 

A  MEADOW  LARK. 
March  16. — Fine,  clear,  dazzling  morning,  the  sun  an  hour 
high,  the  air  just  tart  enough.  What  a  stamp  in  advance  my 
whole  day  receives  from  the  song  of  that  meadow  lark  perch' d 
on  a  fence-stake  twenty  rods  distant !  Two  or  three  liquid- 
simple  notes,  repeated  at  intervals,  full  of  careless  happiness  and 
hope.  With  its  peculiar  shimmering-slow  progress  and  rapid- 
noiseless  action  of  the  wings,  it  flies  on  a  ways,  lights  on  another 
stake,  and  so  on  to  another,  shimmering  and  singing  many 
minutes. 

SUNDOWN  LIGHTS. 

May  6,  5  P.  M. — This  is  the  hour  for  strange  effects  in  light 
and  shade — enough  to  make  a  colorist  go  delirious — long  spokes 
of  molten  silver  sent  horizontallv  through  the  trees  (now  in  their 
brightest  tenderest  green,)  each  leaf  and  branch  of  endless  foli- 
age a  lit-up  miracle,  then  lying  all  prone  on  the  youthful-ripe,  in- 
terminable grass,  and  giving  the  blades  not  only  aggregate  but 
individual  splendor,  in  ways  unknown  to  any  other  hour.  I  have 
particular  spots  where  I  get  these  effects  in  their  perfection.  One 
broad  splash  lies  on  the  water,  with  many  a  rippling  twinkle, 
offset  by  the  rapidly  deepening  black-green  murky-transparent 
shadows  behind,  and  at  intervals  all  along  the  banks.  These, 
with  great  shafts  of  horizontal  fire  thrown  among  the  trees  and 
along  the  grass  as  the  sun  lowers,  give  effects  more  and  more 
peculiar,  more  and  more  superb,  unearthly,  rich  and  dazzling. 


SPECIMEN-  DA  VS.  1 1 1 

THOUGHTS  UNDER  AN  OAK— A  DREAM. 

June  2. — This  is  the  fourth  day  of  a  dark  northeast  storm,  wind 
and  rain.  Day  before  yesterday  was  my  birthday.  I  have  now 
enter'd  on  my  6oth  year.  Every  day  of  the  storm,  protected 
by  overshoes  and  a  waterproof  blanket,  I  regularly  come  down 
to  the  pond,  and  ensconce  myself  under  the  lee  of  the  great  oak ; 
I  am  here  now  writing  these  lines.  The  dark  smoke-color' d 
clouds  roll  in  furious  silence  athwart  the  sky;  the  soft  green 
leaves  dangle  all  round  me  ;  the  wind  steadily  keeps  up  its  hoarse, 
soothing  music  over  my  head — Nature's  mighty  whisper.  Seated 
here  in  solitude  I  have  been  musing  over  my  life — connecting 
events,  dates,  as  links  of  a  chain,  neither  sadly  nor  cheerily,  but 
somehow,  to-day  here  under  the  oak,  in  the  rain,  in  an  unusually 
matter-of-fact  spirit. 

But  my  great  oak — sturdy,  vital,  green — five  feet  thick  at  the 
butt.  I  sit  a  great  deal  near  or  under  him.  Then  the  tulip  tree 
near  by — the  Apollo  of  the  woods — tall  and  graceful,  yet  robust  and 
sinewy,  inimitable  in  hang  of  foliage  and  throwing-out  of  limb ; 
as  if  the  beauteous,  vital,  leafy  creature  could  walk,  if  it  only 
would.  (I  had  a  sort  of  dream-trance  the  other  day,  in  which  I 
saw  my  favorite  trees  step  out  and  promenade  up,  down  and 
around,  very  curiously — with  a  whisper  from  one,  leaning  down 
as  he  pass'd  me,  We  do  all  this  on  the  present  occasion,  exceptionally, 
just  for  you. .) 

CLOVER  AND  HAY  PERFUME. 

July  jo7,  4th,  5I/1. — Clear,  hot,  favorable  weather — has  been  a 
good  summer — the  growth  of  clover  and  grass  now  generally 
mow'd.  The  familiar  delicious  perfume  fills  the  barns  and  lanes. 
As  you  go  along  you  see  the  fields  of  grayish  white  slightly 
tinged  with  yellow,  the  loosely  stack'd  grain,  the  slow-moving 
wagons  passing,  and  farmers  in  the  fields  with  stout  boys  pitch- 
ing and  loading  the  sheaves.  The  corn  is  about  beginning  to 
tassel.  All  overvthe  middle  and  southern  states  the  spear-shaped 
battalia,  multitudinous,  curving,  flaunting — long,  glossy,  dark- 
green  plumes  for  the  great  horseman,  earth.  I  hear  the  cheery 
notes  of  my  old  acquaintance  Tommy  quail ;  but  too  late  for  the 
whip-poor-will,  (though  I  heard  one  solitary  lingerer  night  before 
last.)  I  watch  the  broad  majestic  flight  of  a  turkey-buzzard, 
sometimes  high  up,  sometimes  low  enough  to  see  the  lines  of  his 
form,  even  his  spread  quills,  in  relief  against  the  sky.  Once  or 
twice  lately  I  have  seen  an  eagle  here  at  early  candle-light  flying 
low. 

AN  UNKNOWN. 

June  15. — To-day  I  noticed  a  new  large  bird,  size  of  a  nearly 
grown  hen — a  haughty,  white-bodied  dark-wing' d  hawk — I  sup- 


!  j  2  SPECIMEN  DA  YS. 

pose  a  hawk  from  his  bill  and  general  look — only  he  had  a  clear, 
loud,  quite  musical,  sort  of  bell-like  call,  which  he  repeated 
again  and  again,  at  intervals,  from  a  lofty  dead  tree-top,  over- 
hanging the  water.  Sat  there  a  long  time,  and  I  on  the  opposite 
bank  watching  him.  Then  he  darted  down,  skimming  pretty 
close  to  the  stream — rose  slowly,  a  magnificent  sight,  and  sail'd 
with  steady  wide-spread  wings,  no  flapping  at  all,  up  and  down 
the  pond  two  or  three  times,  near  me,  in  circles  in  clear  sight,  as 
if  for  my  delectation.  Once  he  came  quite  close  over  my  head  ; 
I  saw  plainly  his  hook'd  bill  and  hard  restless  eyes. 

BIRD-WHISTLING. 
How  much  music  (wild,  simple,  savage,  doubtless,  but  so  tart- 
sweet,)  there  is  in  mere  whistling.  It  is  four-fifths  of  the  utter- 
ance of  birds.  There  are  all  sorts  and  styles.  For  the  last  half- 
hour,  now,  while  I  have  been  sitting  here,  some  feather'd  fellow 
away  off  in  the  bushes  has  been  repeating  over  and  over  again 
what  I  may  call  a  kind  of  throbbing  whistle.  And  now  a  bird 
about  the  robin  size  has  just  appear' d,  all  mulberry  red,  flitting 
among  the  bushes — head,  wings,  body,  deep  red,  not  very  bright 
— no  song,  as  I  have  heard.  4  o'clock :  There  is  a  real  concert 
going  on  around  me — a  dozen  different  birds  pitching  in  with  a 
will.  There  have  been  occasional  rains,  and  the  growths  all 
show  its  vivifying  influences.  As  I  finish  this,  seated  on  a  log 
close  by  the  pond-edge,  much  chirping  and  trilling  in  the  dis- 
tance, and  a  feather'd  recluse  in  the  woods  near  by  is  singing 
deliciously — not  many  notes,  but  full  of  music  of  almost  human 
sympathy — continuing  for  a  long,  long  while. 

HORSE-MINT. 

Aug.  22. — Not  a  human  being,  and  hardly  the  evidence  of  one, 
in  sight.  After  my  brief  semi-daily  bath,  I  sit  here  for  a  bit,  the 
brook  musically  brawling,  to  the  chromatic  tones  of  a  fretful 
cat-bird  somewhere  off  in  the  bushes.  On  my  walk  hither  two 
hours  since,  through  fields  and  the  old  lane,  I  stopt  to  view,  now 
the  sky,  now  the  mile-off  woods  on  the  hill,  and  now  the  apple 
orchards.  What  a  contrast  from  New  York's  or  Philadelphia's 
streets  !  Everywhere  great  patches  of  dingy-blossom'd  horse- 
mint  wafting  a  spicy  odor  through  the  air,  (especially  evenings.) 
Everywhere  the  flowering  boneset,  and  the  rose-bloom  of  the 
wild  bean. 

THREE  OF  US. 

July  14. — My  two  kingfishers  still  haunt  the  pond.  In  the 
bright  sun  and  breeze  and  perfect  temperature  of  to-day,  noon,  I 
am  sitting  here  by  one  of  the  gurgling  brooks,  dipping  a  French 
water-pen  in  the  limpid  crystal,  and  using  it  to  write  these  lines, 


SPECIMEN  DA  VS.  It^ 

again  watching  the  feather'd  twain,  as  they  fly  and  sport  athwart 
the  water,  so  close,  almost  touching  into  its  surface.  Indeed  there 
seem  to  be  three  of  us.  For  nearly  an  hour  I  indolently  look 
and  join  them  while  they  dart  and  turn  and  take  their  airy  gam- 
bols, sometimes  far  up  the  creek  disappearing  for  a  few  moments, 
and  then  surely  returning  again,  and  performing  most  of  their 
flight  within  sight  of  me,  as  if  they  knew  I  appreciated  and  ab- 
sorb'd  their  vitality,  spirituality,  faithfulness,  and  the  rapid,  van- 
ishing, delicate  lines  of  moving  yet  quiet  electricity  they  draw 
for  me  across  the  spread  of  the  grass,  the  trees,  and  the  blue  sky. 
While  the  brook  babbles,  babbles,  and  the  shadows  of  the  boughs 
dapple  in  the  sunshine  around  me,  and  the  cool  west  by-nor'- 
west  wind  faintly  soughs  in  the  thick  bushes  and  tree  tops. 

Among  the  objects  of  beauty  and  interest  now  beginning  to 
appear  quite  plentifully  in  this  secluded  spot,  I  notice  the  hum- 
ming-bird, the  dragon-fly  with  its  wings  of  slate-color'd  gauze, 
and  many  varieties  of  beautiful  and  plain  butterflies,  idly  flap- 
ping among  the  plants  and  wild  posies.  The  mullein  has  shot 
up  out  of  its  nest  of  broad  leaves,  to  a  tall  stalk  towering  some- 
times five  or  six  feet  high,  now  studded  with  knobs  of  golden 
blossoms.  The  milk-weed,  (I  see  a  great  gorgeous  creature  of 
gamboge  and  black  lighting  on  one  as  I  write,)  is  in  flower,  with 
its  delicate  red  fringe  ;  and  there  are  profuse  clusters  of  a  feathery 
blossom  waving  in  the  wind  on  taper  stems.  I  see  lots  of  these 
and  much  else  in  every  direction,  as  I  saunter  or  sit^  For  the 
last  half  hour  a  bird  has  persistently  kept  up  a  simple,  sweet, 
melodious  song,  from  the  bushes.  (I  have  a  positive  conviction 
that  some  of  these  birds  sing,  and  others  fly  and  flirt  about  here, 
for  my  especial  benefit.) 

DEATH  OF  WILLIAM  CULLEN  BRYANT. 

New  York  City. — Came  on  from  West  Philadelphia,  June  13, 
in  the  2  p.  m.  train  to  Jersey  city,  and  so  across  and  to  my  friends, 
Mr.  and  Mrs.  J.  H.  J.,  and  their  large  house,  large  family  (and 
large  hearts,)  amid  which  I  feel  at  home,  at  peace — away  up  on 
Fifth  avenue,  near  Eighty-sixth  street,  quiet,  breezy,  overlook- 
ing the  dense  woody  fringe  of  the  park — plenty  of  space  and 
sky,  birds  chirping,  and  air  comparatively  fresh  and  odorless. 
Two  hours  before  starting,  saw  the  announcement  of  William 
Cullen  Bryant's  funeral,  and  felt  a  strong  desire  to  attend.  I  had 
known  Mr.  Bryant  over  thirty  years  ago,  and  he  had  been  mark- 
edly kind  to  me.  Off  and  on,  along  that  time  for  years  as  they 
pass'd,  we  met  and  chatted  together.  I  thought  him  very  socia- 
ble in  his  way,  and  a  man  to  become  attach'd  to.  We  were 
both  walkers,  and  when  I  work'd  in  Brooklyn  he  several  times 

10 


T  T  4  SPE  CI  MEN  DA  VS. 

came  over,  middle  of  afternoons,  and  we  took  rambles  miles  long, 
till  dark,  out  towards  Bedford  or  Flatbush,  in  company.  On 
these  occasions  he  gave  me  clear  accounts  of  scenes  in  Europe — 
the  cities,  looks,  architecture,  art,  especially  Italy — where  he  had 
travel'd  a  good  deal. 

June  14. — The  Funeral. — And  so  the  good,  stainless,  noble 
old  citizen  and  poet  lies  in  the  closed  coffin  there — and  this  is 
his  funeral.  A  solemn,  impressive,  simple  scene,  to  spirit  and 
senses.  The  remarkable  gathering  of  gray  heads,  celebrities — 
the  finely  render'd  anthem,  and  other  music — the  church,  dim 
even  now  at  approaching  noon,  in  its  light  from  the  mellow- 
stain'd  windows — the  pronounc'd  eulogy  on  the  bard  who  loved 
Nature  so  fondly,  and  sung  so  well  her  shows  and  seasons — ending 
with  these  appropriate  well-known  lines : 

I  gazed  upon  the  glorious  sky, 

And  the  green  mountains  round, 
And  thought  that  when  I  came  to  lie 

At  rest  within  the  ground, 
'Twere  pleasant  that  in  flowery  June, 
When  brooks  send  up  a  joyous  tune, 

And  groves  a  cheerful  sound, 
The  sexton's  hand,  my  grave  to  make, 
The  rich  green  mountain  turf  should  break. 

JAUNT  UP  THE  HUDSON. 
June 20th. — On  the  "  Mary  Powell,"  enjoy' d  everything  beyond 
precedent.  The  delicious  tender  summer  day,  just  warm  enough 
— the  constantly  changing  but  ever  beautiful  panorama  on  both 
sides  of  the  river — (went  up  near  a  hundred  miles) — the  high 
straight  walls  of  the.  stony  Palisades — beautiful  Yonkers,  and 
beautiful  Irvington — the  never-ending  hills,  mostly  in  rounded 
lines,  swathed  with  verdure,  —  the  distant  turns,  like  great 
shoulders  in  blue  veils — the  frequent  gray  and  brown  of  the  tall- 
rising  rocks — the  river  itself,  now  narrowing,  now  expanding — 
the  white  sails  of  the  many  sloops,  yachts,  &c,  some  near,  some 
in  the  distance — the  rapid  succession  of  handsome  villages  and 
cities,  (our  boat  is  a  swift  traveler,  and  makes  few  stops) — the 
Race — picturesque  West  Point,  and  indeed  all  along — the  costly 
and  often  turreted  mansions  forever  showing  in  some  cheery 
light  color,  through  the  woods — make  up  the  scene. 

HAPPINESS  AND  RASPBERRIES. 
June  21, — Here  I  am,  on  the  west  bank  of  the  Hudson,  80 
miles  north  of  New  York,  near  Esopus,  at  the  handsome,  roomy, 
honeysuckle-and-rose-embower'd  cottage  of  John  Burroughs. 
The  place,  the  perfect  June  days  and  nights,  (leaning  toward 
crisp  and  cool,)  the  hospitality  of  J.  and  Mrs.  B.,  the  air,  the 


SPECIMEN  DA  YS. 


"5 


fruit,  (especially  my  favorite  dish,  currants  and  raspberries, 
mixed,  sugar' d,  fresh  and  ripe  from  the  bushes — I  pick  'em  my- 
self)— the  room  I  occupy  at  night,  the  perfect  bed,  the  window- 
giving  an  ample  view  of  the  Hudson  and  the  opposite  shores,  so 
wonderful  toward  sunset,  and  the  rolling  music  of  the  RR. 
trains,  far  over  there — the  peaceful  rest — the  early  Venus-her- 
alded dawn — the  noiseless  splash  of  sunrise,  the  light  and  warmth 
indescribably  glorious,  in  which,  (soon  as  the  sun  is  well  up,)  I 
have  a  capital  rubbing  and  rasping  with  the  flesh-brush — with  an 
extra  scour  on  the  back  by  Al.  J.,  who  is  here  with  us — all  in- 
spiriting my  invalid  frame  with  new  life,  for  the  day.  Then, 
after  some  whiffs  of  morning  air,  the  delicious  coffee  of  Mrs.  B., 
with  the  cream,  strawberries,  and  many  substantial,  for  break- 
fast. 

A  SPECIMEN  TRAMP  FAMILY. 

June  22. — This  afternoon  we  went  out  (J.  B.,  Al.  and  I)  on 
quite  a  drive  around  the  country.  The  scenery,  the  perpetual 
stone  fences,  (some  venerable  old  fellows,  dark-spotted  with 
lichens) — the  many  fine  locust-trees — the  runs  of  brawling  water, 
often  over  descents  of  rock — these,  and  lots  else.  It  is  lucky  the 
roads  are  first-rate  here,  (as  they  are,)  for  it  is  up  or  down  hill 
everywhere,  and  sometimes  steep  enough.  B.  has  a  tip-top 
horse,  strong,  young,  and  both  gentle  and  fast.  There  is  a  great 
deal  of  waste  land  and  hills  on  the  river  edge  of  Ulster  county, 
with  a  wonderful  luxuriance  of  wild  flowers  and  bushes — and  it 
seems  to  me  I  never  saw  more  vitality  of  trees — eloquent  hem- 
locks, plenty  of  locusts  and  fine  maples,  and  the  balm  of  Gilead, 
giving  out  aroma.  In  the  fields  and  along  the  road-sides  un- 
usual crops  of  the  tall-stemm'd  wild  daisy,  white  as  milk  and 
yellow  as  gold. 

We  pass'd  quite  a  number  of  tramps,  singly  or  in  couples — 
one  squad,  a  family  in  a  rickety  one-horse  wagon,  with  some 
baskets  evidently  their  work  and  trade — the  man  seated  on  a  low 
board,  in  front,  driving — the  gauntish  woman  by  his  side,  with 
a  baby  well  bundled  in  her  arms,  its  little  red  feet  and  lower  legs 
sticking  out  right  towards  us  as  we  pass'd — and  in  the  wagon  be- 
hind, we  saw  two  (or  three)  crouching  little  children.  It  was  a 
queer,  taking,  rather  sad  picture.  If  I  had  been  alone  and  on 
foot,  I  should  have  stopp'd  and  held  confab.  But  on  our  return 
nearly  two  hours  afterward,  we  found  them  a  ways  further  along 
the  same  road,  in  a  lonesome  open^  spot,  haul'd  aside,  unhitch'd, 
and  evidently  going  to  camp  for  the  night.  The  freed  horse  was 
not  far  off,  quietly  cropping  the  grass.  The  man  was  busy  at  the 
wagon,  the  boy  had  gather' d  some  dry  wood,  and  was  making  a 
fire — and  as  we  went  a  little  further  we  met  the  woman  afoot.     I 


j  j g  SPECIMEN  DA  VS. 

could  not  see  her  face,  in  its  great  sun-bonnet,  but  somehow  her 
figure  and  gait  told  misery,  terror,  destitution.  She  had  the  rag- 
bundled,  half-starv'd  infant  still  in  her  arms,  and  in  her  hands 
held  two  or  three  baskets,  which  she  had  evidently  taken  to  the 
next  house  for  sale.  A  little  barefoot  five-year  old  girl-child, 
with  fine  eyes,  trotted  behind  her,  clutching  her  gown.  We 
stopp'd,  asking  about  the  baskets,  which  we  bought.  As  we 
paid  the  money,  she  kept  her  face  hidden  in  the  recesses  of  her 
bonnet.  Then  as  we  started,  and  stopp'd  again,  Al.,  (whose 
sympathies  were  evidently  arous'd,)  went  back  to  the  camping 
group  to  get  another  basket.  He  caught  a  look  of  her  face,  and 
talk'd  with  her  a  little.  Eyes,  voice  and  manner  were  those  of  a 
corpse,  animated  by  electricity.  She  was  quite  young — the  man 
she  was  traveling  with,  middle-aged.  Poor  woman — what  story 
was  it,  out  of  her  fortunes,  to  account  for  that  inexpressibly  scared 
way,  those  glassy  eyes,  and  that  hollow  voice  ? 

MANHATTAN  FROM  THE  BAY. 

June  25. — Returned  to  New  York  last  night.  Out  to-day  on 
the  waters  for  a  sail  in  the  wide  bay,  southeast  of  Staten  island — a 
rough,  tossing  ride,  and  a  free  sight — the  long  stretch  of  Sandy 
Hook,  the  highlands  of  Navesink,  and  the  many  vessels  outward 
and  inward  bound.  We  came  up  through  the  midst  of  all,  in  the 
full  sun.  I  especially  enjoy'd  the  last  hour  or  two.  A  moderate 
sea-breeze  had  set  in  ;  yet  over  the  city,  and  the  waters  adjacent, 
was  a  thin  haze,  concealing  nothing,  only  adding  to  the  beauty. 
From  my  point  of  view,  as  I  write  amid  the  soft  breeze,  with  a 
sea-temperature,  surely  nothing  on  earth  of  its  kind  can  go  be- 
yond this  show.  To  the  left  the  North  river  with  its  far  vista- 
nearer,  three  or  four  war-ships,  anchor'd  peacefully — the  Jersey 
side,  the  banks  of  Weehawken,  the  Palisades,  and  the  gradually 
receding  blue,  lost  in  the  distance — to  the  right  the  East  river — 
the  mast-hemm'd  shores — the  grand  obelisk-like  towers  of  the 
bridge,  one  on  either  side,  in  haze,  yet  plainly  defin'd,  giant 
brothers  twain,  throwing  free  graceful  interlinking  loops  high 
across  the  tumbled  tumultuous  current  below — (the  tide  is  just 
changing  to  its  ebb)  —  the  broad  water-spread  everywhere 
crowded — no,  not  crowded,  but  thick  as  stars  in  the  sky — with 
all  sorts  and  sizes  of  sail  and  steam  vessels,  plying  ferry-boats, 
arriving  and  departing  coasters,  great  ocean  Dons,  iron-black, 
modern,  magnificent  in  size  and  power,  fill'd  with  their  incalcu- 
lable value  of  human  life  and  precious  merchandise — with  here 
and  there,  above  all,  those  daring,  careening  things  of  grace  and 
wonder,  those  white  and  shaded  swift-darting  fish-birds,  (I  won- 
der if  shore  or  sea  elsewhere  can  outvie  them,)  ever  with  their 


SPECIMEN  DA  YS. 


117 


slanting  spars,  and  fierce,  pure,  hawk-like  beauty  and  motion — 
first-class  New  York  sloop  or  schooner  yachts,  sailing,  this  fine 
day,  the  free  sea  in  a  good  wind.  And  rising  out  of  the  midst, 
tall-topt,  ship-hemm'd,  modern,  American,  yet  strangely  oriental, 
V-shaped  Manhattan,  with  its  compact  mass,  its  spires,  its  cloud- 
touching  edifices  group'd  at  the  centre — the  green  of  the  trees, 
and  all  the  white,  brown  and  gray  of  the  architecture  well  blended, 
as  I  see  it,  under  a  miracle  of  limpid  sky,  delicious  light  of 
heaven  above,  and  June  haze  on  the  surface  below. 

HUMAN  AND  HEROIC  NEW  YORK. 

The  general  subjective  view  of  New  York  and  Brooklyn — (will 
not  the  time  hasten  when  the  two  shall  be  municipally  united  in 
one,  and  named  Manhattan  ?) — what  I  may  call  the  human  inte- 
rior and  exterior  of  these  great  seething  oceanic  populations,  as 
I  get  it  in  this  visit,  is  to  me  best  of  all.  After  an  absence  of 
many  years,  (I  went  away  at  the  outbreak  of  the  secession  war, 
and  have  never  been  back  to  stay  since,)  again  I  resume  with 
curiosity  the  crowds,  the  streets  I  knew  so  well,  Broadway,  the 
ferries,  the  west  side  of  the  city,  democratic  Bowery — human 
appearances  and  manners  as  seen  in  all  these,  and  along  the 
wharves,  and  in  the  perpetual  travel  of  the  horse-cars,  or  the 
crowded  excursion  steamers,  or  in  Wall  and  Nassau  streets  by 
day — in  the  places  of  amusement  at  night — bubbling  and  whirl- 
ing and  moving  like  its  own  environment  of  waters — endless 
humanity  in  all  phases — Brooklyn  also — taken  in  for  the  last 
three  weeks.  No  need  to  specify  minutely — enough  to  say  that 
(making  all  allowances  for  the  shadows  and  side-streaks  of  a 
million-headed-city)  the  brief  total  of  the  impressions,  the 
human  qualities,  of  these  vast  cities,  is  to  me  comforting,  even 
heroic,  beyond  statement.  Alertness,  generally  fine  physique, 
clear  eyes  that  look  straight  at  you,  a  singular  combination  of 
reticence  and  self-possession,  with  good  nature  and  friendli- 
ness— a  prevailing  range  of  according  manners,  taste  and  in- 
tellect, surely  beyond  any  elsewhere  upon  earth — and  a  palpa- 
ble outcropping  of  that  personal  comradeship  I  look  forward  to 
as  the  subtlest,  strongest  future  hold  of  this  many-item'd  Union — ■ 
are  not  only  constantly  visible  here  in  these  mighty  channels  of 
men,  but  they  form  the  rule  and  average.  To-day,  I  should  say — 
defiant  of  cynics  and  pessimists,  and  with  a  full  knowledge  of 
all  their  exceptions — an  appreciative  and  perceptive  study  of  the 
current  humanity  of  New  York  gives  the  directest  proof  yet  of 
successful  Democracy,  and  of  the  solution  of  that  paradox,  the 
eligibility  of  the  free  and  fully  developed  individual  with  the  para- 
mount aggregate.     In  old  age,  lame  and  sick,  pondering  for  years 


I 1 8  SPECIMEN  DA  VS. 

on  many  a  doubt  and  danger  for  this  republic  of  ours — fully 
aware  of  all  that  can  be  said  on  the  other  side — I  find  in  this 
visit  to  New  York,  and  the  daily  contact  and  rapport  with  its 
myriad  people,  on  the  scale  of  the  oceans  and  tides,  the  best, 
most  effective  medicine  my  soul  has  yet  partaken — the  grandest 
physical  habitat  and  surroundings  of  land  and  water  the  globe 
affords — namely,  Manhattan  island  and  Brooklyn,  which  the  future 
shall  join  in  one  city — city  of  superb  democracy,  amid  superb 
surroundings. 

HOURS  FOR  THE  SOUL. 

July  22d,  1878. — Living  down  in  the  country  again.  A  won- 
derful conjunction  of  all  that  goes  to  make  those  sometime  mira- 
cle-hours after  sunset — so  near  and  yet  so  far.  Perfect,  or  nearly 
perfect  days,  I  notice,  are  not  so  very  uncommon  ;  but  the  com- 
binations that  make  perfect  nights  are  few,  even  in  a  life  time. 
We  have  one  of  those  perfections  to-night.  Sunset  left  things 
pretty  clear;  the  larger  stars  were  visible  soon  as  the  shades 
allow'd.  A  while  after  8,  three  or  four  great  black  clouds  suddenly 
rose,  seemingly  from  different  points,  and  sweeping  with  broad 
swirls  of  wind  but  no  thunder,  underspread  the  orbs  from  view 
everywhere,  and  indicated  a  violent  heat-storm.  But  without 
storm,  clouds,  blackness  and  all,  sped  and  vanish'd  as  suddenly 
as  they  had  risen  ;  and  from  a  little  after  9  till  n  the  atmosphere 
and  the  whole  show  above  were  in  that  state  of  exceptional  clear- 
ness and  glory  just  alluded  to.  In  the  northwest  turned  the  Great 
Dipper  with  its  pointers  round  the  Cynosure.  A  little  south  of 
east  the  constellation  of  the  Scorpion  was  fully  up,  with  red  An- 
tares  glowing  in  its  neck;  while  dominating,  majestic  Jupiter 
swam,  an  hour  and  a  half  risen,  in  the  east — (no  moon  till  after 
11.)  A  large  part  of  the  sky  seem'd  just  laid  in  great  splashes 
of  phosphorus.  You  could  look  deeper  in,  farther  through,  than 
usual ;  the  orbs  thick  as  heads  of  wheat  in  a  field.  Not  that  there 
was  any  special  brilliancy  either — nothing  near  as  sharp  as  I  have 
seen  of  keen  winter  nights,  but  a  curious  general  luminousness 
throughout  to  sight,  sense,  and  soul.  The  latter  had  much  to  do 
with  it.  (I  am  convinced  there  are  hours  of  Nature,  especially 
of  the  atmosphere,  mornings  and  evenings,  address' d  to  the  soul. 
Night  transcends,  for  that  purpose,  what  the  proudest  day  can 
do.)  Now,  indeed,  if  never  before,  the  heavens  declared  the 
glory  of  God.  It  was  to  the  full  the  sky  of  the  Bible,  of  Arabia, 
of  the  prophets,  and  of  the  oldest  poems.  There,  in  abstraction 
and  stillness,  (I  had  gone  off  by  myself  to  absorb  the  scene,  to 
have  the  spell  unbroken,)  the  copiousness,  the  removedness,  vi- 
tality, loose-clear-crowdedness,  of  that  stellar  concave  spreading 
overhead,  softly  absorb' d  into  me,  rising  so  free,  interminably 


SPECIMEN  DA  YS. 


119 


high,  stretching  east,  west,  north,  south — and  I,  though  but  a 
point  in  the  centre  below,  embodying  all. 

As  if  for  the  first  time,  indeed,  creation  noiselessly  sank  into 
and  through  me  its  placid  and  untellable  lesson,  beyond — O,  so 
infinitely  beyond  ! — anything  from  art,  books,  sermons,  or  from 
science,  old  or  new.  The  spirit's  hour — religion's  hour — the 
visible  suggestion  of  God  in  space  and  time — now  once  definitely 
indicated,  if  never  again.  The  untold  pointed  at — the  heavens 
all  paved  with  it.  The  Milky  Way,  as  if  some  superhuman  sym- 
phony, some  ode  of  universal  vagueness,  disdaining  syllable  and 
sound — a  flashing  glance  of  Deity,  address'd  to  the  soul.  All 
silently — the  indescribable  night  and  stars — far  off  and  silently. 

The  Dawn. — July  2j. — This  morning,  between  one  and  two 
hours  before  sunrise,  a  spectacle  wrought  on  the  same  back- 
ground, yet  of  quite  different  beauty  and  meaning.  The  moon 
well  up  in  the  heavens,  and  past  her  half,  is  shining  brightly— 
the  air  and  sky  of  that  cynical-clear,  Minerva-like  quality,  virgin 
cool — not  the  weight  of  sentiment  or  mystery,  or  passion's  ec- 
stasy indefinable — not  the  religious  sense,  the  varied  All,  distill' d 
and  sublimated  into  one,  of  the  night  just  described.  Every  star 
now  clear-cut,  showing  for  just  what  it  is,  there  in  the  colorless 
ether.  The  character  of  the  heralded  morning,  ineffably  sweet 
and  fresh  and  limpid,  but  for  the  esthetic  sense  alone,  and  for 
purity  without  sentiment.  I  have  itemized  the  night — but  dare 
I  attempt  the  cloudless  dawn  ?  (What  subtle  tie  is  this  between 
one's  soul  and  the  break  of  day?  Alike,  and  yet  no  two  nights 
or  morning  shows  ever  exactly  alike.)  Preceded  by  an  immense 
star,  almost  unearthly  in  its  effusion  of  white  splendor,  with  two 
or  three  long  unequal  spoke-rays  of  diamond  radiance,  shedding 
down  through  the  fresh  morning  air  below — an  hour  of  this,  and 
then  the  sunrise. 

The  East. — What  a  subject  for  a  poem  !  Indeed,  where  else 
a  more  pregnant,  more  splendid  one  ?  Where  one  more  idealistic- 
real,  more  subtle,  more  sensuous-delicate?  The  East,  answering 
all  lands,  all  ages,  peoples ;  touching  all  senses,  here,  immediate, 
now — and  yet  so  indescribably  far  off — such  retrospect !  The  East 
— long-stretching — so  losing  itself — the  orient,  the  gardens  of 
Asia,  the  womb  of  history  and  song — forth-issuing  all  those 
strange,  dim  cavalcades — 

Florid  with  blood,  pensive,  rapt  with  musings,  hot  with  passion, 
Sultry  with  perfume,  with  ample  and  flowing  garments, 
With  sunburnt  visage,  intense  soul  and  glittering  eyes. 

Always  the  East — old,  how  incalculably  old  !  And  yet  here 
the  same — ours  yet,  fresh  as  a  rose,  to  every  morning,  every  life, 
to-day — and  always  will  be. 


I2o  SEE  CI  MEN  DA  VS. 

Sept.  17. — Another  presentation — same  theme  —  just  before 
sunrise  again,  (a  favorite  hour  with  me.)  The  clear  gray  sky,  a 
faint  glow  in  the  dull  liver-color  of  the  east,  the  cool  fresh  odor 
and  the  moisture — the  cattle  and  horses  off  there  grazing  in  the 
fields — the  star  Venus  again,  two  hours  high.  For  sounds,  the 
chirping  of  crickets  in  the  grass,  the  clarion  of  chanticleer,  and 
the  distant  cawing  of  an  early  crow.  Quietly  over  the  dense 
fringe  of  cedars  and  pines  rises  that  dazzling,  red,  transparent 
disk  of  flame,  and  the  low  sheets  of  white  vapor  roll  and  roll 
into  dissolution. 

The  Moon. — May  18. — I  went  to  bed  early  last  night,  but 
found  myself  waked  shortly  after  12,  and,  turning  awhile  sleepless 
and  mentally  feverish,  I  rose,  dress'd  myself,  sallied  forth  and 
walk'd  down  the  lane.  The  full  moon,  some  three  or  four  hours 
up — a  sprinkle  of  light  and  less-light  clouds  just  lazily  moving — 
Jupiter  an  hour  high  in  the  east,  and  here  and  there  throughout 
the  heavens  a  random  star  appearing  and  disappearing.  So,  beau- 
tifully veil'd  and  varied — the  air,  with  that  early-summer  perfume, 
not  at  all  damp  or  raw — at  times  Luna  languidly  emerging  in 
richest  brightness  for  minutes,  and  then  partially  envelop'd  again. 
Far  off  a  whip-poor-will  plied  his  notes  incessantly.  It  was  that 
silent  time  between  1  and  3. 

The  rare  nocturnal  scene,  how  soon  it  sooth'd  and  pacified  me  ! 
Is  there  not  something  about  the  moon,  some  relation  or  re- 
minder, which  no  poem  or  literature  has  yet  caught  ?  (In  very 
old  and  primitive  ballads  I  have  come  across  lines  or  asides  that 
suggest  it.)  After  a  while  the  clouds  mostly  clear' d,  and  as  the 
moon  swam  on,  she  carried,  shimmering  and  shifting,  delicate 
color-effects  of  pellucid  green  and  tawny  vapor.  Let  me  con- 
clude this  part  with  an  extract,  (some  writer  in  the  "Tribune," 
May  16,  1878:) 

No  one  ever  gets  tired  of  the  moon.  Goddess  that  she  is  by  dower  of  her 
eternal  beauty,  she  is  a  true  woman  by  her  tact — knows  the  charm  of  being 
seldom  seen,  of  coming  by  surprise  and  staying  but  a  little  while ;  never 
wears  the  same  dress  two  nights  running,  nor  all  night  the  same  way ;  com- 
mends herself  to  the  matter-of-fact  people  by  her  usefulness,  and  makes  her 
uselessness  adored  by  poets,  artists,  and  all  lovers  in  all  lands ;  lends  herself 
to  every  symbolism  and  to  every  emblem ;  is  Diana's  bow  and  Venus's  mir- 
ror and  Mary's  throne ;  is  a  sickle,  a  scarf,  an  eyebrow,  his  face  or  her  face, 
as  look'd  at  by  her  or  by  him;  is  the  madman's  hell,  the  poet's  heaven,  the 
baby's  toy,  the  philosopher's  study ;  and  while  her  admirers  follow  her  foot- 
steps, and  hang  on  her  lovely  looks,  she  knows  how  to  keep  her  woman's 
secret — her  other  side — unguess'd  and  unguessable. 

Furthermore. — February  ip,  1880. — Just  before  10  p.  M.  cold 
and  entirely  clear  again,  the  show  overhead,  bearing  southwest, 
of  wonderful  and  crowded  magnificence.     The  moon  in  her  third 


SPECIMEN  DA  VS.  1 2 1 

quarter — the  clusters  of  the  Hyades  and  Pleiades,  with  the  planet 
Mars  between — in  full  crossing  sprawl  in  the  sky  the  great  Egyp- 
tian X,  (Sirius,  Procyon,  and  the  main  stars  in  the  constellations 
of  the  Ship,  the  Dove,  and  of  Orion ; )  just  north  of  east  Bootes,  and 
in  his  knee  Arcturus,  an  hour  high,  mounting  the  heaven,  ambi- 
tiously large  and  sparkling,  as  if  he  meant  to  challenge  with  Sirius 
the  stellar  supremacy. 

With  the  sentiment  of  the  stars  and  moon  such  nights  I  get  all 
the  free  margins  and  indefiniteness  of  music  or  poetry,  fused  in 
geometry's  utmost  exactness. 

STRAW-COLOR'D  AND  OTHER  PSYCHES. 

Aug.  4. — A  pretty  sight !  Where  I  sit  in  the  shade — a  warm 
day,  the  sun  shining  from  cloudless  skies,  the  forenoon  well  ad- 
vanc'd — I  look  over  a  ten-acre  field  of  luxuriant  clover-hay,  (the 
second  crop) — the  livid-ripe  red  blossoms  and  dabs  of  August 
brown  thickly  spotting  the  prevailing  dark-green.  Over  all  flut- 
ter myriads  of  light-yellow  butterflies,  mostly  skimming  along 
the  surface,  dipping  and  oscillating,  giving  a  curious  animation 
to  the  scene.  The  beautiful,  spiritual  insects  !  straw-color'd 
Psyches  !  Occasionally  one  of  them  leaves  his  mates,  and  mounts, 
perhaps  spirally,  perhaps  in  a  straight  line  in  the  air,  fluttering 
up,  up,  till  literally  out  of  sight.  In  the  lane  as  I  came  along 
just  now  I  noticed  one  spot,  ten  feet  square  or  so,  where  more 
than  a  hundred  had  collected,  holding  a  revel,  a  gyration-dance, 
or  butterfly  good-time,  winding  and  circling,  down  and  across,  but 
always  keeping  within  the  limits.  The  little  creatures  have  come 
out  all  of  a  sudden  the  last  few  days,  and  are  now  very  plentiful.  As 
I  sit  outdoors,  or  walk,  I  hardly  look  around  without  somewhere 
seeing  two  (always  two)  fluttering  through  the  air  in  amorous  dal- 
liance. Then  their  inimitable  color,  their  fragility,  peculiar 
motion — and  that  strange,  frequent  way  of  one  leaving  the  crowd 
and  mounting  up,  up  in  the  free  ether,  and  apparently  never  re- 
turning. As  I  look  over  the  field,  these  yellow-wings  everywhere 
mildly  sparkling,  many  snowy  blossoms  of  the  wild  carrot  grace- 
fully bending  on  their  tall  and  taper  stems — while  for  sounds,  the 
distant  guttural  screech  of  a  flock  of  guinea-hens  comes  shrilly 
yet  somehow  musically  to  my  ears.  And  now  a  faint  growl  of 
heat-thunder  in  the  north — and  ever  the  low  rising  and  falling 
wind-purr  from  the  tops  of  the  maples  and  willows. 

Aug.  20. — Butterflies  and  butterflies,  (taking  the  place  of  the 
bumble-bees  of  three  months  since,  who  have  quite  disappear'd,) 
continue  to  flit  to  and  fro,  all  sorts,  white,  yellow,  brown,  pur- 
ple— now  and  then  some  gorgeous  fellow  flashing  lazily  by  on 
wings  like  artists'  palettes  dabb'd  with  every  color.     Over  the 

11 


j  2  2  SPECIMEN  DA  YS. 

breast  of  the  pond  I  notice  many  white  ones,  crossing,  pursuing 
their  idle  capricious  flight.  Near  where  I  sit  grows  a  tall-stemm'd 
weed  topt  with  a  profusion  of  rich  scarlet  blossoms,  on  which'the 
snowy  insects  alight  and  dally,  sometimes  four  or  five  of  them  at 
a  time.  By-and-by  a  humming-bird  visits  the  same,  and  I  watch 
him  coming  and  going,  daintily  balancing  and  shimmering 
about.  These  white  butterflies  give  new  beautiful  contrasts  to 
the  pure  greens  of  the  August  foliage,  (we  have  had  some  co- 
pious rains  lately,)  and  over  the  glistening  bronze  of  the  pond- 
surface.  You  can  tame  even  such  insects ;  I  have  one  big  and 
handsome  moth  down  here,  knows  and  comes  to  me,  likes  me  to 
hold  him  up  on  my  extended  hand. 

Another  -Day,  later. — A  grand  twelve-acre  field  of  ripe  cabbages 
with  their  prevailing  hue  of  malachite  green,  and  floating -flying 
over  and  among  them  in  all  directions  myriads  of  these  same 
white  butterflies.  As  I  came  up  the  lane  to-day  I  saw  a  living 
globe  of  the  same,  two  to  three  feet  in  diameter,  many  scores 
cluster'd  together  and  rolling  along  in  the  air,  adhering  to  their 
ball-shape,  six  or  eight  feet  above  the  ground. 

A  NIGHT  REMEMBRANCE. 
Aug.  25,  9-10  a.  m. — I  sit  by  the  edge  of  the  pond,  every- 
thing quiet,  the  broad  polish' d  surface  spread  before  me — the 
blue  of  the  heavens  and  the  white  clouds  reflected  from  it — and 
flitting  across,  now  and  then,  the  reflection  of  some  flying  bird. 
Last  night  I  was  down  here  with  a  friend  till  after  midnight; 
everything  a  miracle  of  splendor — the  glory  of  the  stars,  and  the 
completely  rounded  moon — the  passing  clouds,  silver  and  lumi- 
nous-tawny— now  and  then  masses  of  vapory  illuminated  scud — 
and  silently  by  my  side  my  dear  friend.  The  shades  of  the  trees, 
and  patches  of  moonlight  on  the  grass — the  softly  blowing 
breeze,  and  just-palpable  odor  of  the  neighboring  ripening  corn 
— the  indolent  and  spiritual  night,  inexpressibly  rich,  tender, 
suggestive — something  altogether  to  filter  through  one's  soul, 
and  nourish  and  feed  and  soothe  the  memory  long  afterwards. 

WILD  FLOWERS. 
This  has  been  and  is  yet  a  great  season  for  wild  flowers ;  oceans 
of  them  line  the  roads  through  the  woods,  border  the  edges  of 
the  water-runlets,  grow  all  along  the  old  fences,  and  are  scatter'd 
in  profusion  over  the  fields.  An  eight-petal'd  blossom  of  gold- 
yellow,  clear  and  bright,  with  a  brown  tuft  in  the  middle,  nearly 
as  large  as  a  silver  half-dollar,  is  very  common  ;  yesterday  on  a 
long  drive  I  noticed  it  thickly  lining  the  borders  of  the  brooks 
everywhere.  Then  there  is  a  beautiful  weed  cover'd  with  blue 
flowers,  (the  blue  of  the  old  Chinese  teacups  treasur'd  by  our 


SPECIMEN  DA  YS. 


123 


grand-aunts,)  I  am  continually  stopping  to  admire — a  little 
larger  than  a  dime,  and  very  plentiful.  White,  however,  is  the 
prevailing  color.  The  wild  carrot  I  have  spoken  of;  also  the 
fragrant  life-everlasting.  But  there  are  all  hues  and  beauties, 
especially  on  the  frequent  tracts  of  half-open  scrub-oak  and  dwarf- 
cedar  hereabout — wild  asters  of  all  colors.  Notwithstanding  the 
frost-touch  the  hardy  little  chaps  maintain  themselves  in  all  their 
bloom.  The  tree-leaves,  too,  some  of  them  are  beginning  to 
turn  yellow  or  drab  or  dull  green.  The  deep  wine-color  of  the 
sumachs  and  gum-trees  is  already  visible,  and  the  straw-color  of 
the  dog-wood  and  beech.  Let  me  give  the  names  of  some  of 
these  perennial  blossoms  and  friendly  weeds  I  have  made  acquaint- 
ance with  hereabout  one  season  or  another  in  my  walks : 


wild  azalea, 

wild  honeysuckle, 

wild  roses, 

golden  rod, 

larkspur, 

early  crocus, 

sweet  flag,  (great  patches  of  it,) 

creeper,  trumpet-flower, 

scented  marjoram, 

snakeroot, 

Solomon's  seal, 

sweet  balm, 

mint,  (great  plenty,) 

wild  geranium, 

wild  heliotrope, 

burdock, 


dandelions, 

yarrow, 

coreopsis, 

wild  pea, 

woodbine, 

elderberry, 

poke-weed, 

sun-flower, 

chamomile, 

violets, 

clematis, 

bloodroot, 

swamp  magnolia, 

milk-weed, 

wild  daisy,  (plenty,) 

wild  chrysanthemum. 


A  CIVILITY  TOO  LONG  NEGLECTED. 

The  foregoing  reminds  me  of  something.  As  the  individuali- 
ties I  would  mainly  portray  have  certainly  been  slighted  by  folks 
who  make  pictures,  volumes,  poems,  out  of  them — as  a  faint 
testimonial  of  my  own  gratitude  for  many  hours  of  peace  and 
comfort  in  half-sickness,  (and  not  by  any  means  sure  but  they 
will  somehow  get  wind  of  the  compliment,)  I  hereby  dedicate  the 
last  half  of  these  Specimen  Days  to  the 


bees, 

black-birds, 

dragon-flies, 

pond-turtles, 

mulleins,  tansy,  peppermint, 

moths    (great    and    little,    some 

splendid  fellows,) 
glow-worms,  (swarming  millions 

of  them  indescribably  strange 

and  beautiful  at  night  over  the 

pond  and  creek,) 


water-snakes, 
crows, 
millers, 
mosquitoes, 
butterflies, 
wasps  and  hornets, 
cat  birds  (and  all  other  birds,) 
cedars, 

tulip-trees  (and  all  other  trees,) 
and  to  the  spots  and  memories  of 
those  days,  and  of  the  creek. 


124 


SPECIMEN  DA  YS. 


DELAWARE  RIVER— DAYS  AND  NIGHTS. 

April 5,  1879. — With  the  return  of  spring  to  the  skies,  airs, 
waters  of  the  Delaware,  return  the  sea-gulls.  I  never  tire  of  watch- 
ing their  broad  and  easy  flight,  in  spirals,  or  as  they  oscillate  with 
slow  unflapping  wings,  or  look  down  with  curved  beak,  or  dipping 
to  the  water  after  food.  The  crows,  plenty  enough  all  through 
the  winter,  have  vanish'd  with  the  ice.  Not  one  of  them  now  to 
be  seen.  The  steamboats  have  again  come  forth — bustling  up, 
handsome,  freshly  painted,  for  summer  work — the  Columbia,  the 
Edwin  Forrest,  (the  Republic  not  yet  out,)  the  Reybold,  the 
Nelly  White,  the  Twilight,  the  Ariel,  the  Warner,  the  Perry,  the 
Taggart,  the  Jersey  Blue — even  the  hulky  old  Trenton — not  for- 
getting those  saucy  little  bull-pups  of  the  current,  the  steamtugs. 

But  let  me  bunch  and  catalogue  the  affair — the  river  itself,  all 
the  way  from  the  sea — cape  Island  on  one  side  and  Henlopen 
light  on  the  other — up  the  broad  bay  north,  and  so  to  Philadel- 
phia, and  on  further  to  Trenton  ; — the  sights  I  am  most  familiar 
with,  (as  I  live  a  good  part  of  the  time  in  Camden,  I. view  mat- 
ters from  that  outlook) — the  great  arrogant,  black,  full-freighted 
ocean  steamers,  inward  or  outward  bound — the  ample  width 
here  between  the  two  cities,  intersected  by  Windmill  island — an 
occasional  man-of-war,  sometimes  a  foreigner,  at  anchor,  with 
her  guns  and  port-holes,  and  the  boats,  and  the  brown-faced 
sailors,  and  the  regular  oar-strokes,  and  the  gay  crowds  of  "  visit- 
ing day" — the  frequent  large  and  handsome  three-masted  schoon- 
ers, (a  favorite  style  of  marine  build,  hereabout  of  late  years,) 
some  of  them  new  and  very  jaunty,  with  their  white-gray  sails 
and  yellow  pine  spars — the  sloops  dashing  along  in  a  fair  wind — 
(I  see  one  now,  coming  up,  under  broad  canvas,  her  gaff-topsail 
shining  in  the  sun,  high  and  picturesque — what  a  thing  of  beauty 
amid  the  sky  and  waters  !) — the  crowded  wharf-slips  along  the 
city — the  flags  of  different  nationalities,  the  sturdy  English  cross 
on  its  ground  of  blood,  the  French  tricolor,  the  banner  of  the 
great  North  German  empire,  and  the  Italian  and  the  Spanish 
colors — sometimes,  of  an  afternoon,  the  whole  scene  enliven'd 
by  a  fleet  of  yachts,  in  a  half  calm,  lazily  returning  from  a  race 
down  at  Gloucester; — the  neat,  rakish,  revenue  steamer  " Hamil- 
ton" in  mid-stream,  with  her  perpendicular  stripes  flaunting  aft — 
and,  turning  the  eyes  north,  the  long  ribands  of  fleecy-white 
steam,  or  dingy-black  smoke,  stretching  far,  fan-shaped,  slanting 
diagonally  across  from  the  Kensington  or  Richmond  shores,  in 
the  west-by-south-west  wind. 

SCENES  ON  FERRY  AND  RIVER— LAST  WINTER'S  NIGHTS. 
Then  the  Camden  ferry.     What  exhilaration,  change,  people, 
business,   by  day.     What  soothing,  silent,  wondrous  hours,  at 


SPECIMEN  DA  YS. 


125 


night,  crossing  on  the  boat,  most  all  to  myself — pacing  the  deck, 
alone,  forward  or  aft.  What  communion  with  the  waters,  the 
air,  the  exquisite  chiaroscuro — the  sky  and  stars,  that  speak  no 
word,  nothing  to  the  intellect,  yet  so  eloquent,  so  communica- 
tive to  the  soul.  And  the  ferry  men — little  they  know  how  much 
they  have  been  to  me,  day  and  night — how  many  spells  of  list- 
lessness,  ennui,  debility,  they  and  their  hardy  ways  have  dis- 
pell'd.  And  the  pilots — captains  Hand,  Walton,  and  Giberson 
by  day,  and  captain  Olive  at  night ;  Eugene  Crosby,  with  his 
strong  young  arm  so  often  supporting,  circling,  convoying  me 
over  the  gaps  of  the  bridge,  through  impediments,  safely  aboard. 
Indeed  all  my  ferry  friends — captain  Frazee  the  superintendent, 
Lindell,  Hiskey,  Fred  Rauch,  Price,  Watson,  and  a  dozen  more. 
And  the  ferry  itself,  with  its  queer  scenes — sometimes  children 
suddenly  born  in  the  waiting-houses  (an  actual  fact — and  more 
than  once) — sometimes  a  masquerade  party,  going  over  at  night, 
with  a  band  of  music,  dancing  and  whirling  like  mad  on  the 
broad  deck,  in  their  fantastic  dresses :  sometimes  the  astronomer, 
Mr.  Whitall,  (who  posts  me  up  in  points  about  the  stars  by  a 
living  lesson  there  and  then,  and  answering  every  question) — 
sometimes  a  prolific  family  group,  eight,  nine,  ten,  even  twelve  ! 
(Yesterday,  as  I  cross'd,  a  mother,  father,  and  eight  children, 
waiting  in  the  ferry-house,  bound  westward  somewhere.) 

I  have  mention' d  the  crows.  I  always  watch  them  from  the 
boats.  They  play  quite  a  part  in  the  winter  scenes  on  the  river, 
by  day.  Their  black  splatches  are  seen  in  relief  against  the  snow 
and  ice  everywhere  at  that  season — sometimes  flying  and  flap- 
ping— sometimes  on  little  or  larger  cakes,  sailing  up  or  down  the 
stream.  One  day  the  river  was  mostly  clear — only  a  single  long 
ridge  of  broken  ice  making  a  narrow  stripe  by  itself,  running 
along  down  the  current  for  over  a  mile,  quite  rapidly.  On  this 
white  stripe  the  crows  were  congregated,  hundreds  of  them — a 
funny  procession — ("  half  mourning  "  was  the  comment  of  some 
one.) 

Then  the  reception  room,  for  passengers  waiting — life  illus- 
trated thoroughly.  Take  a  March  picture  I  jotted  there  two  or 
three  weeks  since.  Afternoon,  about  3^  o'clock,  it  begins  to 
snow.  There  has  been  a  matinee  performance  at  the  theater 
— from  4%  to  5  comes  a  stream  of  homeward  bound  ladies.  I 
never  knew  the  spacious  room  to  present  a  gayer,  more  lively 
scene — handsome,  well-drest  Jersey  women  and  girls,  scores  of 
them,  streaming  in  for  nearly  an  hour — the  bright  eyes  and 
glowing  faces,  coming  in  from  the  air — a  sprinkling  of  snow  on 
bonnets  or  dresses  as  they  enter — the  five  or  ten  minutes'  wait- 
ing— the  chatting  and  laughing — (women  can  have  capital  times 


j 26  SPEC/MEAT  DA  VS. 

among  themselves,  with  plenty  of  wit,  lunches,  jovial  abandon) 
—  Lizzie,  the  pleasant-manner'd  waiting-room  woman  —  for 
sound,  the  bell-taps  and  steam-signals  of  the  departing  boats 
with  their  rhythmic  break  and  undertone — the  domestic  pictures, 
mothers  with  bevies  of  daughters,  (a  charming  sight) — children, 
countrymen — the  railroad  men  in  their  blue  clothes  and  caps — 
all  the  various  characters  of  city  and  country  represented  or  sug- 
gested. Then  outside  some  belated  passenger  frantically  run- 
ning, jumping  after  the  boat.  Towards  six  o'clock  the  human 
stream  gradually  thickening — now  a  pressure  of  vehicles,  drays, 
piled  railroad  crates — now  a  drove  of  cattle,  making  quite  an  ex- 
citement, the  drovers  with  heavy  sticks,  belaboring  the  steaming 
sides  of  the  frighten'd  brutes.  Inside  the  reception  room,  busi- 
ness bargains,  flirting,  love-making,  eclaircisseme?its,  proposals — 
pleasant,  sober-faced  Phil  coming  in  with  his  burden  of  afternoon 
papers — or  Jo,  or  Charley  (who  jump'd  in  the  dock  last  week, 
and  saved  a  stout  lady  from  drowning,)  to  replenish  the  stove, 
after  clearing  it  with  long  crow-bar  poker. 

Besides  all  this  "comedy  human,"  the  river  affords  nutri- 
ment of  a  higher  order.  Here  are  some  of  my  memoranda  of 
the  past  winter,  just  as  pencill'd  down  on  the  spot. 

A  January  Night. — Fine  trips  across  the  wide  Delaware  to- 
night. Tide  pretty  high,  and  a  strong  ebb.  River,  a  little  after 
8,  full  of  ice,  mostly  broken,  but  some  large  cakes  making  our 
strong-timber'd  steamboat  hum  and  quiver  as  she  strikes  them. 
In  the  clear  moonlight  they  spread,  strange,  unearthly,  silvery, 
faintly  glistening,  as  far  as  I  can  see.  Bumping,  trembling, 
sometimes  hissing  like  a  thousand  snakes,  the  tide-procession,  as 
we  wend  with  or  through  it,  affording  a  grand  undertone,  in 
keeping  with  the  scene.  Overhead,  the  splendor  indescribable; 
yet  something  haughty,  almost  supercilious,  in  the  night.  Never 
did  I  realize  more  latent  sentiment,  almost  passion,  in  those  silent 
interminable  stars  up  there.  One  can  understand,  such  a  night, 
why,  from  the  days  of  the  Pharaohs  or  Job,  the  dome  of  heaven, 
sprinkled  with  planets,  has  supplied  the  subtlest,  deepest  criti- 
cism on  human  pride,  glory,  ambition. 

Another  Winter  Night. — I  don't  know  anything  more  filling 
than  to  be  on  the  wide  firm  deck  of  a  powerful  boat,  a  clear,  cool, 
extra-moonlight  night,  crushing  proudly  and  resistlessly  through 
this  thick,  marbly,  glistening  ice.  The  whole  river  is  now  spread 
with  it — some  immense  cakes.  There  is  such  weirdness  about 
the  scene — partly  the  quality  of  the  light,  with  its  tinge  of  blue, 
the  lunar  twilight — only  the  large  stars  holding  their  own  in  the 
radiance  of  the  moon.  Temperature  sharp,  comfortable  for  mo- 
tion, dry,  full  of  oxygen.     But  the  sense  of  power — the  steady, 


SPECIMEN  DA  VS.  127 

scornful,  imperious  urge  of  our  strong  new  engine,  as  she  ploughs 
her  way  through  the  big  and  little  cakes. 

Another. — For  two  hours  I  cross'd  and  recrossM,  merely  for 
pleasure — for  a  still  excitement.  Both  sky  and  river  went 
through  several  changes.  The  first  for  awhile  held  two  vast  fan- 
shaped  echelons  of  light  clouds,  through  which  the  moon  waded, 
now  radiating,  carrying  with  her  an  aureole  of  tawny  transpar- 
ent brown,  and  now  flooding  the  whole  vast  with  clear  vapory 
light-green,  through  which,  as  through  an  illuminated  veil,  she 
moved  with  measur'd  womanly  motion.  Then,  another  trip,  the 
heavens  would  be  absolutely  clear,  and  Luna  in  all  her  efful- 
gence. The  big  Dipper  in  the  north,  with  the  double  star  in  the 
handle  much  plainer  than  common.  Then  the  sheeny  track  of 
light  in  the  water,  dancing  and  rippling.  Such  transformations  ; 
such  pictures  and  poems,  inimitable. 

Another. — I  am  studying  the  stars,  under  advantages,  as  I  cross 
to-night.  (It  is  late  in  February,  and  again  extra  clear.)  High 
toward  the  west,  the  Pleiades,  tremulous  with  delicate  sparkle,  in 
the  soft  heavens.  Aldebaran,  leading  the  V-shaped  Hyades — 
and  overhead  Capella  and  her  kids.  Most  majestic  of  all,  in 
full  display  in  the  high  south,  Orion,  vast-spread,  roomy,  chief 
histrion  of  the  stage,  with  his  shiny  yellow  rosette  on  his  shoul- 
der, and  his  three  Kings — and  a  little  to  the  east,  Sirius,  calmly 
arrogant,  most  wondrous  single  star.  Going  late  ashore,  (I 
couldn't  give  up  the  beauty  and  soothingness  of  the  night,)  as  I 
staid  around,  or  slowly  wander'd,  I  heard  the  echoing  calls  of  the 
railroad  men  in  the  West  Jersey  depot  yard,  shifting  and  switch- 
ing trains,  engines,  &c. ;  amid  the  general  silence  otherways,  and 
something  in  the  acoustic  quality  of  the  air,  musical,  emotional 
effects,  never  thought  of  before.  I  linger'd  long  and  long,  listen- 
ing to  them. 

Night  of  March  18,  '/p. — One  of  the  calm,  pleasantly  cool, 
exquisitely  clear  and  cloudless,  early  spring  nights — the  atmos- 
phere again  that  rare  vitreous  blue-black,  welcom'd  by  astrono- 
mers.    Just  at  8,  evening,  the  scene  overhead  of  certainly  sol- 
emnest  beauty,  never  surpass' d.     Venus  nearly  down  in  the  west, 
of  a  size  and  lustre  as  if  trying  to  outshow  herself,  before  depart- 
ing.    Teeming,  maternal  orb — I  take  you  again  to  myself.     I  am 
reminded  of  that  spring  preceding  Abraham   Lincoln's  murder, 
when  I,  restlessly  haunting  the  Potomac  banks,  around  Washing- 
ton city,  watch' d  you,  off  there,  aloof,  moody  as  myself: 
As  we  walk'd  up  and  down  in  the  dark  blue  so  mystic, 
As  we  walk'd  in  silence  the  transparent  shadowy  night, 
As  I  saw  you  had  something  to  tell,  as  you  bent  to  me  night  after  night, 
As  you  droop  from  the  sky  low  down,  as  if  to  my  side,  (while  the  other  stars 

all  look'd  on,) 
As  we  wander'd  together  the  solemn  night. 


j  28  SPECIMEN  DA  YS. 

With  departing  Venus,  large  to  the  last,  and  shining  even  to 
the  edge  of  the  horizon,  the  vast  dome  presents  at  this  moment, 
such  a  spectacle  !  Mercury  was  visible  just  after  sunset — a  rare 
sight.  Arcturus  is  now  risen,  just  north  of  east.  In  calm  glory- 
all  the  stars  of  Orion  hold  the  place  of  honor,  in  meridian,  to 
the  south — with  the  Dog-star  a  little  to  the  left.  And  now,  just 
rising,  Spica,  late,  low,  and  slightly  veiTd.  Castor,  Regulusand 
the  rest,  all  shining  unusually  clear,  (no  Mars  or  Jupiter  or  moon 
till  morning.)  On  the  edges  of  the  river,  ma*ny  lamps  twinkling 
— with  two  or  three  huge  chimneys,  a  couple  of  miles  up,  belch- 
ing forth  molten,  steady  flames,  volcano-like,  illuminating  all 
around — and  sometimes  an  electric  or  calcium,  its  Dante-Inferno 
gleams,  in  far  shafts,  terrible,  ghastly-powerful.  Of  later  May 
nights,  crossing,  I  like  to  watch  the  fishermen's  little  buoy-lights 
— so  pretty,  so  dreamy — like  corpse  candles — undulating  delicate 
and  lonesome  on  the  surface  of  the  shadowy  waters,  floating  with 
the  current. 

THE  FIRST  SPRING  DAY  ON  CHESTNUT  STREET. 

Winter  relaxing  its  hold,  has  already  allow'd  us  a  foretaste  of 
spring.  As  I  write,  yesterday  afternoon's  softness  and  bright- 
ness, (after  the  morning  fog,  which  gave  it  a  better  setting,  by 
contrast,)  show'd  Chestnut  street — say  between  Broad  and  Fourth 
— to  more  advantage  in  its  various  asides,  and  all  its  stores,  and 
gay-dress'd  crowds  generally,  than  for  three  months  past.  I  took 
a  walk  there  between  one  and  two.  Doubtless,  there  were  plenty 
of  hard-up  folks  along  the  pavements,  but  nine-tenths  of  the  myr- 
iad-moving human  panorama  to  all  appearance  seem'd  flush, 
well-fed,  and  fully-provided.  At  all  events  it  was  good  to  be  on 
Chestnut  street  yesterday.  The  peddlers  on  the  sidewalk — 
("  sleeve-buttons,  three  for  five  cents  ") — the  handsome  little  fel- 
low with  canary-bird  whistles — the  cane  men,  toymen,  toothpick 
men — the  old  woman  squatted  in  a  Heap  on  the  cold  stone  flags, 
with  her  basket  of  matches,  pins  and  tape — the  young  negro 
mother,  sitting,  begging,  with  her  two  little  coffee-color'd  twins 
on  her  lap — the  beauty  of  the  cramm'd  conservatory  of  rare 
flowers,  flaunting  reds,  yellows,  snowy  lilies,  incredible  orchids, 
at  the  Baldwin  mansion  near  Twelfth  street — the  show  of  fine 
poultry,  beef,  fish,  at  the  restaurants — the  china  stores,  with  glass 
and  statuettes — the  luscious  tropical  fruits — the  street  cars  plod- 
ding along,  with  their  tintinnabulating  bells — the  fat,  cab-look- 
ing, rapidly  driven  one-horse  vehicles  of  the  post-office,  squeez'd 
full  of  coming  or  going  letter-carriers,  so  healthy  and  handsome 
and  manly-looking,  in  their  gray  uniforms — the  costly  books, 
pictures,  curiosities,  in  the  windows — the  gigantic  policemen  at 


SPECIMEN  DA  VS.  1 2g 

most  of  the  corners — will  all  be  readily  remember'd  and  recog- 
nized as  features  of  this  principal  avenue  of  Philadelphia. 
Chestnut  street,  I  have  discover'd,  is  not  without  individuality, 
and  its  own  points,  even  when  compared  with  the  great  prome- 
nade-streets of  other  cities.  I  have  never  been  in  Europe,  but 
acquired  years'  familiar  experience  with  New  York's,  (perhaps 
the  world's,)  great  thoroughfare,  Broadway,  and  possess  to  some 
extent  a  personal  and  saunterer's  knowledge  of  St.  Charles  street 
in  New  Orleans,  Tremont  street  in  Boston,  and  the  broad  trot- 
toirs  of  Pennsylvania  avenue  in  Washington.  Of  course  it  is  a 
pity  that  Chestnut  were  not  two  or  three  times  wider ;  but  the 
street,  any  fine  day,  shows  vividness,  motion,  variety,  not  easily 
to  be  surpass'd.  (Sparkling  eyes,  human  faces,  magnetism,  well- 
dress'd  women,  ambulating  to  and  fro — with  lots  of  fine  things 
in  the  windows — are  they  not  about  the  same,  the  civilized  world 
over  ?) 

How  fast  the  flitting  figures  come  ! 

The  mild,  the  fierce,  the  stony  face; 
Some  bright  with  thoughtless  smiles — and  some 

Where  secret  tears  have  left  their  trace. 

A  few  days  ago  one  of  the  six-story  clothing  stores  along  here 
had  the  space  inside  its  plate-glass  show-window  partition 'd  into 
a  little  corral,  and  litter'd  deeply  with  rich  clover  and  hay,  (I 
could  smell  the  odor  outside,)  on  which  reposed  two  magnificent 
fat  sheep,  full-sized  but  young — the  handsomest  creatures  of  the 
kind  I  ever  saw.  I  stopp'd  long  and  long,  with  the  crowd,  to 
view  them — one  lying  down  chewing  the  cud,  and  one  standing 
up,  looking  out,  with  dense-fringed  patient  eyes.  Their  wool, 
of  a  clear  tawny  color,  with  streaks  of  glistening  black — alto- 
gether a  queer  sight  amidst  that  crowded  promenade  of  dandies, 
dollars  and  drygoods. 

UP  THE  HUDSON  TO  ULSTER  COUNTY. 

April  23. — Off  to  New  York  on  a  little  tour  and  visit.  Leav- 
ing the  hospitable,  home-like  quarters  of  my  valued  friends,  Mr. 
and  Mrs.  J.  H.  Johnston — took  the  4  p.  m.  boat,  bound  up  the 
Hudson,  100  miles  or  so.  Sunset  and  evening  fine.  Especially 
enjoy'd  the  hour  after  we  passed  Cozzens's  landing — the  night  lit 
by  the  crescent  moon  and  Venus,  now  swimming  in  tender 
glory,  and  now  hid  by  the  high  rocks  and  hills  of  the  western 
shore,  which  we  hugg'd  close.  (Where  I  spend  the  next  ten 
days  is  in  Ulster  county  and  its  neighborhood,  with  frequent 
morning  and  evening  drives,  observations  of  the  river,  and  short 
rambles.) 

April  24 — Noon. — A  little  more  and  the  sun  would  be  oppres- 
sive.    The  bees  are  out  gathering  their  bread  from  willows  and 


!  30  SPECIMEN  DA  VS. 

other  trees.  I  watch  them  returning,  darting  through  the  air  or 
lighting  on  the  hives,  their  thighs  covered  with  the  yellow  forage. 
A  solitary  robin  sings  near.  I  sit  in  my  shirt  sleeves  and  gaze 
from  an  open  bay-window  on  the  indolent  scene — the  thin  haze, 
the  Fishkill  hills  in  the  distance — off  on  the  river,  a  sloop  with 
slanting  mainsail,  and  two  or  three  little  shad-boats.  Over  on 
the  railroad  opposite,  long  freight  trains,  sometimes  weighted  by 
cylinder-tanks  of  petroleum,  thirty,  forty,  fifty  cars  in  a  string, 
panting  and  rumbling  along  in  full  view,  but  the  sound  soften' d 
by  distance. 

DAYS  AT  J.  B.'s— TURF-FIRES— SPRING  SONGS. 

April  26. — At  sunrise,  the  pure  clear  sound  of  the  meadow 
lark.  An  hour  later,  some  notes,  few  and  simple,  yet  delicious 
and  perfect,  from  the  bush-sparrow — towards  noon  the  reedy  trill 
of  the  robin.  To-day  is  the  fairest,  sweetest  yet — penetrating 
warmth — a  lovely  veil  in  the  air,  partly  heat-vapor  and  partly 
from  the  turf- fires  everywhere  in  patches  on  the  farms.  A  group 
of  soft  maples  near  by  silently  bursts  out  in  crimson  tips,  buzzing 
all  day  with  busy  bees.  The  white  sails  of  sloops  and  schooners 
glide  up  or  down  the  river;  and  long  trains  of  cars,  with  pon- 
derous roll,  or  faint  bell  notes,  almost  constantly  on  the  oppo- 
site shore.  The  earliest  wild  flowers  in  the  woods  and  fields, 
spicy  arbutus,  blue  liverwort,  frail  anemone,  and  the  pretty 
white  blossoms  of  the  bloodroot.  I  launch  out  in  slow  rambles, 
discovering  them.  As  I  go  along  the  roads  I  like  to  see  the 
farmers'  fires  in  patches,  burning  the  dry  brush,  turf,  debris. 
How  the  smoke  crawls  along,  flat  to  the  ground,  slanting,  slowly 
rising,  reaching  away,  and  at  last  dissipating.  I  like  its  acrid 
smell — whiffs  just  reaching  me — welcomer  than  French  perfume. 

The  birds  are  plenty ;  of  any  sort,  or  of  two  or  three  sorts, 
curiously,  not  a  sign,  till  suddenly  some  warm,  gushing,  sunny 
April  (or  even  March)  day — lo  !  there  they  are,  from  twig  to  twig, 
or  fence  to  fence,  flirting,  singing,  some  mating,  preparing  to 
build.  But  most  of  them  en  passant — a  fortnight,  a  month  in 
these  parts,  and  then  away.  As  in  all  phases,  Nature  keeps  up 
her  vital,  copious,  eternal  procession.  Still,  plenty  of  the  birds 
hang  around  all  or  most  of  the  season — now  their  love-time,  and 
era  of  nest-building.  I  find  flying  over  the  river,  crows,  gulls 
and  hawks.  I  hear  the  afternoon  shriek  of  the  latter,  darting 
about,  preparing  to  nest.  The  oriole  will  soon  be  heard  here, 
and  the  twanging  meoeow  of  the  cat-bird ;  also  the  king-bird, 
cuckoo  and  the  warblers.  All  along,  there  are  three  peculiarly 
characteristic  spring  songs — the  meadow-lark's,  so  sweet,  so  alert 
and  remonstrating  (as  if  he  said,  "  don't  you  see?"  or,  "  can't 


SPECIMEN  DA  YS. 


I3I 


you  understand?") — the  cheery,  mellow,  human  tones  of  the 
robin — (I  have  been  trying  for  years  to  get  a  brief  term,  or  phrase, 
that  would  identify  and  describe  that  robin-call) — and  the  amor- 
ous whistle  of  the  high-hole.  Insects  are  out  plentifully  at  midday. 
April  29. — As  we  drove  lingering  along  the  road  we  heard, 
just  after  sundown,  the  song  of  the  wood-thrush.  We  stopp'd 
without  a  word,  and  listen'd  long.  The  delicious  notes — a 
sweet,  artless,  voluntary,  simple  anthem,  as  from  the  flute-stops 
of  some  organ,  wafted  through  the  twilight — echoing  well  to  us 
from  the  perpendicular  high  rock,  where,  in  some  thick  young 
trees'  recesses  at  the  base,  sat  the  bird — fill'd  our  senses,  our 
souls. 

MEETING  A  HERMIT. 

I  found  in  one  of  my  rambles  up  the  hills  a  real  hermit,  living 
in  a  lonesome  spot,  hard  to  get  at,  rocky,  the  view  fine,  with  a 
little  patch  of  land  two  rods  square.  A  man  of  youngish  middle 
age,  city  born  and  raised,  had  been  to  school,  had  travel'd  in 
Europe  and  California.  I  first  met  him  once  or  twice  on  the  road, 
and  pass'd  the  time  of  day,  with  some  small  talk  ;  then,  the  third 
time,  he  ask'd  me  to  go  along  a  bit  and  rest  in  his  hut  (an  almost 
unprecedented  compliment,  as  I  heard  from  others  afterwards.) 
He  was  of  Quaker  stock,  I  think;  talk'd  with  ease  and  moderate 
freedom,  but  did  not  unbosom  his  life,  or  story,  or  tragedy,  or 
whatever  it  was. 

AN  ULSTER  COUNTY  WATERFALL. 
I  jot  this  mem.  in  a  wild  scene  of  woods  and  hills,  where  we 
have  come  to  visit  a  waterfall.  I  never  saw  finer  or  more  copious 
hemlocks,  many  of  them  large,  some  old  and  hoary.  Such  a 
sentiment  to  them,  secretive,  shaggy — what  I  call  weather-beaten 
and  let-alone — a  rich  underlay  of  ferns,  yew  sprouts  and  mosses, 
beginning  to  be  spotted  with  the  early  summer  wild-flowers.  En- 
veloping all,  the  monotone  and  liquid  gurgle  from  the  hoarse 
impetuous  copious  fall — the  greenish-tawny,  darkly  transparent 
waters,  plunging  with  velocity  down  the  rocks,  with  patches  of 
milk-white  foam — a  stream  of  hurrying  amber,  thirty  feet  wide, 
risen  far  back  in  the  hills  and  woods,  now  rushing  with  volume — 
every  hundred  rods  a  fall,  and  sometimes  three  or  four  in  that 
distance.  A  primitive  forest,  druidical,  solitary  and  savage — not 
ten  visitors  a  year — broken  rocks  everywhere — shade  overhead, 
thick  underfoot  with  leaves — a  just  palpable  wild  and  delicate 
aroma. 

WALTER  DUMONT  AND  HIS  MEDAL. 

As  I  saunter'd  along  the  high  road  yesterday,  I  stopp'd  to 
watch  a  man  near  by,  ploughing  a  rough  stony  field  with  a  yoke 


I32  SPECIMEN  DA  VS. 

of  oxen.  Usually  there  is  much  geeing  and  hawing,  excitement, 
and  continual  noise  and  expletives,  about  a  job  of  this  kind. 
But  I  noticed  how  different,  how  easy  and  wordless,  yet  firm  and 
sufficient,  the  work  of  this  young  ploughman.  His  name  was 
Walter  Dumont,  a  farmer,  and  son  of  a  farmer,  working  for  their 
living.  Three  years  ago,  when  the  steamer  "Sunnyside"  was 
wreck'd  of  a  bitter  icy  night  on  the  west  bank  here,  Walter  went 
out  in  his  boat — was  the  first  man  on  hand  with  assistance — 
made  a  way  through  the  ice  to  shore,  connected  a  line,  per- 
form'd  work  of  first-class  readiness,  daring,  danger,  and  saved 
numerous  lives.  Some  weeks  after,  one  evening  when  he  was  up 
at  Esopus,  among  the  usual  loafing  crowd  at  the  country  store  and 
post-office,  there  arrived  the  gift  of  an  unexpected  official  gold 
medal  for  the  quiet  hero.  The  impromptu  presentation  was 
made  to  him  on  the  spot,  but  he  blush'd,  hesitated  as  he  took  it, 
and  had  nothing  to  say. 

HUDSON  RIVER  SIGHTS. 

It  was  a  happy  thought  to  build  the  Hudson  river  railroad 
right  along  the  shore.  The  grade  is  already  made  by  nature ; 
you  are  sure  of  ventilation  one  side — and  you  are  in  nobody's 
way.  I  see,  hear,  the  locomotives  and  cars,  rumbling,  roaring, 
flaming,  smoking,  constantly,  away  off  there,  night  and  day — 
less  than  a  mile  distant,  and  in  full  view  by  day.  I  like  both 
sight  and  sound.  Express  trains  thunder  and  lighten  along  ;  of 
freight  trains,  most  of  them  very  long,  there  cannot  be  less  than 
a  hundred  a  day.  At  night  far  down  you  see  the  headlight  ap- 
proaching, coming  steadily  on  like  a  meteor.  The  river  at  night 
has  its  special  character-beauties.  The  shad  fishermen  go  forth 
in  their  boats  and  pay  out  their  nets — one  sitting  forward,  row- 
ing, and  one  standing  up  aft  dropping  it  properly — marking  the 
line  with  little  floats  bearing  candles,  conveying,  as  they  glide 
over  the  water,  an  indescribable  sentiment  and  doubled  bright- 
ness. I  like  to  watch  the  tows  at  night,  too,  with  their  twink- 
ling lamps,  and  hear  the  husky  panting  of  the  steamers  ;  or  catch 
the  sloops'  and  schooners'  shadowy  forms,  like  phantoms,  white, 
silent,  indefinite,  out  there.  Then  the  Hudson  of  a  clear  moon- 
light night. 

But  there  is  one  sight  the  very  grandest.  Sometimes  in  the 
fiercest  driving  storm  of  wind,  rain,  hail  or  snow,  a  great  eagle 
will  appear  over  the  river,  now  soaring  with  steady  and  now 
overhended  wings  —  always  confronting  the  gale,  or  perhaps 
cleaving  into,  or  at  times  literally  sitting  upon  it.  It  is  like  read- 
ing some  first-class  natural  tragedy  or  epic,  or  hearing  martial 
trumpets.    The  splendid  bird  enjoys  the  hubbub — is  adjusted  and 


SPECIMEN  DA  YS.  j  ^ 

equal  to  it — finishes  it  so  artistically.  His  pinions  just  oscilla- 
ting— the  position  of  his  head  and  neck — his  resistless,  occasion- 
ally varied  flight — now  a  swirl,  now  an  upward  movement — the 
black  clouds  driving — the  angry  wash  below — the  hiss  of  rain, 
the  wind's  piping  (perhaps  the  ice  colliding,  grunting) — he  tack- 
ing or  jibing — now,  as  it  were,  for  a  change,  abandoning  him- 
self to  the  gale,  moving  with  it  with  such  velocity — and  now, 
resuming  control,  he  comes  up  against  it,  lord  of  the  situation 
and  the  storm — lord,  amid  it,  of  power  and  savage  joy. 

Sometimes  (as  at  present  writing,)  middle  of  sunny  afternoon, 
the  old  "  Vanderbilt  "  steamer  stalking  ahead — I  plainly  hear  her 
rhythmic,  slushing  paddles — drawing  by  long  hawsers  an  im- 
mense and  varied  following  string,  ("an  old  sow  and  pigs,"  the 
river  folks  call  it.)  First  comes  a  big  barge,  with  a  house  built 
on  it,  and  spars" towering  over  the  roof;  then  canal  boats,  a 
lengthen'd,  clustering  train,  fasten'd  and  link'd  together — the 
one  in  the  middle,  with  high  staff,  flaunting  a  broad  and  gaudy 
flag — others  with  the  almost  invariable  lines  of  new-wash'd 
clothes,  drying;  two  sloops  and  a  schooner  aside  the  tow — little 
wind,  and  that  adverse — with  three  long,  dark,  empty  barges 
bringing  up  the  rear.  People  are  on  the  boats  :  men  lounging, 
women  in  sun-bonnets,  children,  stovepipes  with  streaming 
smoke. 

TWO  CITY  AREAS,  CERTAIN  HOURS. 

New  York,  May  24,  '/p.— Perhaps  no  quarters  of  this  city  (I 
have  return'd  again  for  awhile,)  make  more  brilliant,  animated, 
crowded,  spectacular  human  presentations  these  fine  May  after- 
noons than  the  two  I  am  now  going  to  describe  from  personal 
observation.  First :  that  area  comprising^Fourteenth  street  (es- 
pecially the  short  range  between  Broadway  and  Fifth  avenue) 
with  Union  square,  its  adjacencies,  and  so  retrostretching  down 
Broadway  for  half  a  mile.  All  the  walks  here  are  wide,  and  the 
spaces  ample  and  free — now  flooded  with  liquid  gold  from  the 
last  two  hours  of  powerful  sunshine.  The  whole  area  at  5  o'clock, 
the  days  of  my  observations,  must  have  contain'd  from  thirty  to 
forty  thousand  finely-dress'd  people,  all  in  motion,  plenty  of  them 
good-looking,  many  beautiful  women,  often  youths  and  children, 
the  latter  in  groups  with  their  nurses — the  trottoirs  everywhere 
close-spread,  thick-tangled,  (yet  no  collision,  no  trouble,)  with 
masses  of  bright  color,  action,  and  tasty  toilets ;  (surely  the 
women  dress  better  than  ever  before,  and  the  men  do  too.)  As 
if  New  York  would  show  these  afternoons  what  it  can  do  in  its 
humanity,  its  choicest  physique  and  physiognomy,  and  its  count- 
less prodigality  of  locomotion,  dry  goods,  glitter,  magnetism, 
and  happiness. 


134 


SPECIMEN  DA  VS. 


Second:  also  from  5  to  7  P.  m.  the  stretch  of  Fifth  avenue,  all 
the  way  from  the  Central  Park  exits  at  Fifty-ninth  street,  down 
to  Fourteenth,  especially  along  the  high  grade  by  Fortieth  street, 
and  down  the  hill.  A  Mississippi  of  horses  and  rich  vehicles, 
not  by  dozens  and  scores,  but  hundreds  and  thousands — the  broad 
avenue  filled  and  cramm'd  with  them — a  moving,  sparkling,  hur- 
rying crush,  for  more  than  two  miles.  (I  wonder  they  don't  get 
block'd,  but  I  believe  they  never  do.)  Altogether  it  is  to  me  the 
marvel  sight  of  New  York.  I  like  to  get  in  one  of  the  Fifth 
avenue  stages  and  ride  up,  stemming  the  swift-moving  procession. 
I  doubt  if  London  or  Paris  or  any  city  in  the  world  can  show 
such  a  carriage  carnival  as  I  have  seen  here  five  or  six  times  these 
beautiful  May  afternoons. 

CENTRAL  PARK  WALKS  AND  TALKS. 

May  16  to  22. — I  visit  Central  Park  now  almost  every  day, 
sitting,  or  slowly  rambling,  or  riding  around.  The  whole  place 
presents  its  very  best  appearance  this  current  month — the  full 
flush  of  the  trees,  the  plentiful  white  and  pink  of  the  flowering 
shrubs,  the  emerald  green  of  the  grass  spreading  everywhere,  yel- 
low dotted  still  with  dandelions — the  specialty  of  the  plentiful 
gray  rocks,  peculiar  to  these  grounds,  cropping  out,  miles  and 
miles — and  over  all  the  beauty  and  purity,  three  days  out  of  four, 
of  our  summer  skies.  As  I  sit,  placidly,  early  afternoon,  off 
against  Ninetieth  street,  the  policeman,  C.  C,  a  well-form'd 
sandy-complexion'd  young  fellow,  comes  over  and  stands  near 
me.  We  grow  quite  friendly  and  chatty  forthwith.  He  is  a  New 
Yorker  born  and  raised,  and  in  answer  to  my  questions  tells  me 
about  the  life  of  a  New  York  Park  policeman,  (while  he  talks 
keeping  his  eyes  and  ears  vigilantly  open,  occasionally  pausing  and 
moving  where  he  can  get  full  views  of  the  vistas  of  the  road,  up 
and  down,  and  the  spaces  around.)  The  pay  is  $2  40  a  day  (seven 
days  to  a  week) — the  men  come  on  and  work  eight  hours  straight 
ahead,  which  is  all  that  is  required  of  them  out  of  the  twenty- 
four.  The  position  has  more  risks  than  one  might  suppose — for 
instance  if  a  team  or  horse  runs  away  (which  happens  daily)  each 
man  is  expected  not  only  to  be  prompt,  but  to  waive  safety  and 
stop  wildest  nag  or  nags — (do  it,  and  don't  be  thinking  of  your 
bones  or  face) — give  the  alarm-whistle  too,  so  that  other  guards 
may  repeat,  and  the  vehicles  up  and  down  the  tracks  be.  warn'd. 
Injuries  to  the  men  are  continually  happening.  There  is  much 
alertness  and  quiet  strength.  (Few  appreciate,  I  have  often 
thought,  the  Ulyssean  capacity,  derring  do,  quick  readiness  in 
emergencies,  practicality,  unwitting  devotion  and  heroism,  among 
our  American  young  men  and  working-people — the  firemen,  the 


SPECIMEN  DA  YS. 


135 


railroad  employes,  the  steamer  and  ferry  men,  the  police,  the 
conductors  and  drivers — the  whole  splendid  average  of  native 
stock,  city  and  country.)  It  is  good  work,  though  \  and  upon  the 
whole,  the  Park  force  members  like  it.  They  see  life,  and  the 
excitement  keeps  them  up.  There  is  not  so  much  difficulty  as 
might  be  supposed  from  tramps,  roughs,  or  in  keeping  people 
"off  the  grass."  The  worst  trouble  of  the  regular  Park  em- 
ploye is  from  malarial  fever,  chills,  and  the  like. 

A  FINE  AFTERNOON,  4  TO  6. 

Ten  thousand  vehicles  careering  through  the  Park  this  perfect 
afternoon.  Such  a  show  !  and  I  have  seen  all — watch'd  it  nar- 
rowly, and  at  my  leisure.  Private  barouches,  cabs  and  coupes, 
some  fine  horseflesh — lapdogs,  footmen,  fashions,  foreigners, 
cockades  on  hats,  crests  on  panels — the  full  oceanic  tide  of  New 
York's  wealth  and  "gentility."  It  was  an  impressive,  rich,  in- 
terminable circus  on  a  grand  scale,  full  of  action  and  color  in 
the  beauty  of  the  day,  under  the  clear  sun  and  moderate  breeze. 
Family  groups,  couples,  single  drivers — of  course  dresses  gener- 
ally elegant — much  "style,"  (yet  perhaps  little  or  nothing,  even 
in  that  direction,  that  fully  justified  itself.)  Through  the  win- 
dows of  two  or  three  of  the  richest  carriages  I  saw  faces  almost 
corpse-like,  so  ashy  and  listless.  Indeed  the  whole  affair  exhibi- 
ted less  of  sterling  America,  either  in  spirit  or  countenance,  than 
I  had  counted  on  from  such  a  select  mass-spectacle.  I  suppose, 
as  a  proof  of  limitless  wealth,  leisure,  and  the  aforesaid  "  gen- 
tility," it  was  tremendous.  Yet  what  I  saw  those  hours  (I  took  two 
other  occasions,  two  other  afternoons  to  watch  the  same  scene,)  con- 
firms a  thought  that  haunts  me  every  additional  glimpse  I  get  of 
our  top-loftical  general  or  rather  exceptional  phases  of  wealth 
and  fashion  in  this  country — namely,  that  they  are  ill  at  ease, 
much  too  conscious,  cased  in  too  many  cerements,  and  far  from 
happy — that  there  is  nothing  in  them  which  we  who  are  poor 
and  plain  need  at  all  envy,  and  that  instead  of  the  perennial 
smell  of  the  grass  and  woods  and  shores,  their  typical  redolence 
is  of  soaps  and  essences,  very  rare  may  be,  but  suggesting  the 
barber  shop — something  that  turns  stale  and  musty  in  a  few  hours 
anyhow. 

Perhaps  the  show  on  the  horseback  road  was  prettiest.  Many 
groups  (threes  a  favorite  number,)  some  couples,  some  singly — 
many  ladies — frequently  horses  or  parties  dashing  along  on  a  full 
run — fine  riding  the  rule — a  few  really  first-class  animals.  As  the 
afternoon  waned,  the  wheel'd  carriages  grew  less,  but  the  saddle- 
riders  seemed  to  increase.  They  linger'd  long — and  I  saw  some 
charming  forms  and  faces. 


136 


SPECIMEN  DA  VS. 


DEPARTING  OF  THE  BIG  STEAMERS. 

May  75. — A  three  hours'  bay-trip  from  12  to  3  this  afternoon, 
accompanying  "the  City  of  Brussels"  down  as  far  as  the  Nar- 
rows, in  behoof  of  some  Europe-bound  friends,  to  give  them  a 
good  send  off.  Our  spirited  little  tug,  the  "  Seth  Low,"  kept 
close  to  the  great  black  "Brussels,"  sometimes  one  side,  some- 
times the  other,  always  up  to  her,  or  even  pressing  ahead,  (like 
the  blooded  pony  accompanying  the  royal  elephant.)  The  whole 
affair,  from  the  first,  was  an  animated,  quick-passing,  character- 
istic New  York  scene;  the  large,  good-looking,  well-dress'd 
crowd  on  the  wharf-end — men  and  women  come  to  see  their 
friends  depart,  and  bid  them  God-speed — the  ship's  sides  swarm- 
ing with  passengers — groups  of  bronze-faced  sailors,  with  uni- 
form'd  officers  at  their  posts — the  quiet  directions,  as  she  quickly 
unfastens  and  moves  out,  prompt  to  a  minute — the  emotional 
faces,  adieus  and  fluttering  handkerchiefs,  and  many  smiles  and 
some  tears  on  the  wharf — the  answering  faces,  smiles,  tears  and 
fluttering  handkerchiefs,  from  the  ship — (what  can  be  subtler  and 
finer  than  this  play  of  faces  on  such  occasions  in  these  respond- 
ing crowds? — what  go  more  to  one's  heart?) — the  proud,  steady, 
noiseless  cleaving  of  the  grand  oceaner  down  the  bay — we  speed- 
ing by  her  side  a  few  miles,  and  then  turning,  wheeling,  amid  a 
babel  of  wild  hurrahs,  shouted  partings,  ear-splitting  steam  whis- 
tles, kissing  of  hands  and  waving  of  handkerchiefs. 

This  departing  of  the  big  steamers,  noons  or  afternoons — there 
is  no  better  medicine  when  one  is  listless  or  vapory.  I  am  fond 
of  going  down  Wednesdays  and  Saturdays — their  more  special 
days — to  watch  them  and  the  crowds  on  the  wharves,  the  arriv- 
ing passengers,  the  general  bustle  and  activity,  the  eager  looks 
from  the  faces,  the  clear-toned  voices,  (a  travel 'd  foreigner,  a 
musician,  told  me  the  other  day  she  thinks  an  American  crowd 
has  the  finest  voices  in  the  world,)  the  whole  look  of  the  great, 
shapely  black  ships  themselves,  and  their  groups  and  lined  sides — 
in  the  setting  of  our  bay  with  the  blue  sky  overhead.  Two  days 
after  the  above  I  saw  the  "  Britannic,"  the  "  Donau,"  the  "  Hel- 
vetia "  and  the  "Schiedam"  steam  out,  all  off  for  Europe — a 
magnificent  sight. 

TWO  HOURS  ON  THE  MINNESOTA. 

From  7  to  9,  aboard  the  United  States  school-ship  Minnesota, 
lying  up  the  North  river.  Captain  Luce  sent  his  gig  for  us  about 
sundown,  to  the  foot  of  Twenty-third  street,  and  receiv'd'  us 
aboard  with  officer-like  hospitality  and  sailor  heartiness.  There 
are  several  hundred  youths  on  the  Minnesota  to  be  train'd  for 
efficiently  manning  the  government  navy.     I  like  the  idea  much  ; 


SPECIMEN  DA  VS. 


J37 


and,  so  far  as  I  have  seen  to-night,  I  like  the  way  it  is  carried 
out  on  this  huge  vessel.  Below,  on  the  gun-deck,  were  gather'd 
nearly  a  hundred  of  the  boys,  to  give  us  some  of  their  singing 
exercises,  with  a  melodeon  accompaniment,  play'd  by  one  of  their 
number.  They  sang  with  a  will.  The  best  part,  however,  was 
the  sight  of  the  young  fellows  themselves.  I  went  over  among 
them  before  the  singing  began,  and  talk'd  a  few  minutes  infor- 
mally. They  are  from  all  the  States ;  I  asked  for  the  Southern- 
ers, but  could  only  find  one,  a  lad  from  Baltimore.  In  age,  ap- 
parently, they  range  from  about  fourteen  years  to  nineteen  or 
twenty.  They  are  all  of  American  birth,  and  have  to  pass  a  rigid 
medical  examination ;  well-grown  youths,  good  flesh,  bright 
eyes,  looking  straight  at  you,  healthy,  intelligent,  not  a  slouch 
among  them,  nor  a  menial — in  every  one  the  promise  of  a  man. 
I  have  been  to  many  public  aggregations  of  young  and  old,  and 
of  schools  and  colleges,  in  my  day,  but  I  confess  I  have  never 
been  so  near  satisfied,  so  comforted,  (both  from  the  fact  of  the 
school  itself,  and  the  splendid  proof  of  our  country,  our  compo- 
site race,  and  the  sample-promises  of  its  good  average  capacities, 
its  future,)  as  in  the  collection  from  all  parts  of  the  United  States 
on  this  navy  training  ship.  ("Are  there  going  to  be  any  men 
there?"  was  the  dry  and  pregnant  reply  of  Emerson  to  one  who 
had  been  crowding  him  with  the  rich  material  statistics  and  pos- 
sibilities of  some  western  or  Pacific  region.) 

May  26. — Aboard  the  Minnesota  again.  Lieut.  Murphy  kindly 
came  for  me  in  his  boat.  Enjoy'd  specially  those  brief  trips  to 
and  fro — the  sailors,  tann'd,  strong,  so  bright  and  able-looking, 
pulling  their  oars  in  long  side-swing,  man-of-war  style,  as  they 
row'd  me  across.  I  saw  the  boys  in  companies  drilling  with  small 
arms;  had  a  talk  with  Chaplain  Rawson.  At  11  o'clock  all  of 
us  gathered  to  breakfast  around  a  long  table  in  the  great  ward 
room — I  among  the  rest — a  genial,  plentiful,  hospitable  affair  every 
way — plenty  to  eat,  and  of  the  best ;  became  acquainted  with 
several  new  officers.  This  second  visit,  with  its  observations,  talks, 
(two  or  three  at  random  with  the  boys,)  confirm'd  my  first  im- 
pressions. 

MATURE  SUMMER  DAYS  AND  NIGHTS. 

Aug.  4. — Forenoon — as  I  sit  under  the  willow  shade,  (have 
retreated  down  in  the  country  again,)  a  little  bird  is  leisurely 
dousing  and  flirting  himself  amid  the  brook  almost  within  reach 
of  me.  He  evidently  fears  me  not — takes  me  for  some  concomi- 
tant of  the  neighboring  earthy  banks,  free  bushery  and  wild 
weeds.  6  p.  m. — The  last  three  days  have  been  perfect  ones  for 
the  season,  (four  nights  ago  copious  rains,  with  vehement  thunder 
and  lightning.)     I  write  this  sitting  by  the  creek  watching  my 


12 


I38  SPECIMEN  DAYS. 

two  kingfishers  at  their  sundown  sport.  The  strong,  beautiful, 
joyous  creatures  !  Their  wings  glisten  in  the  slanted  sunbeams 
as  they  circle  and  circle  around,  occasionally  dipping  and  dash- 
ing the  water,  and  making  long  stretches  up  and  down  the  creek. 
Wherever  I  go  over  fields,  through  lanes,  in  by-places,  blooms 
the  white-flowering  wild-carrot,  its  delicate  pat  of  snow-flakes 
crowning  its  slender  stem,  gracefully  oscillating  in  the  breeze. 

EXPOSITION  BUILDING— NEW  CITY  HALL— RIVER  TRIP. 

Philadelphia,  Aug.  26. — Last  night  and  to-night  of  unsur- 
pass'd  clearness,  after  two  days'  rain  ;  moon  splendor  and  star 
splendor.  Being  out  toward  the  great  Exposition  building,  West 
Philadelphia,  I  saw  it  lit  up,  and  thought  I  would  go  in.  There 
was  a  ball,  democratic  but  nice;  plenty  of  young  couples  waltz- 
ing and  quadrilling — music  by  a  good  string-band.  To  the  sight 
and  hearing  of  these — to  moderate  strolls  up  and  down  the  roomy 
spaces — to  getting  off  aside,  resting  in  an  arm-chair  and  look- 
ing up  a  long  while  at  the  grand  high  roof  with  its  graceful  and 
multitudinous  work  of  iron  rods,  angles,  gray  colors,  plays  of 
light  and  shade,  receding  into  dim  outlines — to  absorbing  (in  the 
intervals  of  the  string  band,)  some  capital  voluntaries  and  rolling 
caprices  from  the  big  organ  at  the  other  end  of  the  building — to 
sighting  a  shadow'd  figure  or  group  or  couple  of  lovers  every 
now  and  then  passing  some  near  or  farther  aisle — I  abandon'd 
myself  for  over  an  hour. 

Returning  home,  riding  down  Market  street  in  an  open  sum- 
mer car,  something  detain'd  us  between  Fifteenth  and  Broad, 
and  I  got  out  to  view  better  the  new,  three-fifths-built  marble 
edifice,  the  City  Hall,  of  magnificent  proportions — a  majestic 
and  lovely  show  there  in  the  moonlight — flooded  all  over,  facades, 
myriad  silver-white  lines  and  carv'd  heads  and  mouldings,  with 
the  soft  dazzle — silent,  weird,  beautiful — well,  I  know  that  never 
when  finish'd  will  that  magnificent  pile  impress  one  as  it  im- 
press'd  me  those  fifteen  minutes. 

To-night,  since,  I  have  been  long  on  the  river.  I  watch  the 
C-shaped  Northern  Crown,  (with  the  star  Alshacca  that  blazed 
out  so  suddenly,  alarmingly,  one  night  a  few  years  ago.)  The 
moon  in  her  third  quarter,  and  up  nearly  all  night.  And  there, 
as  I  look  eastward,  my  long-absent  Pleiades,  welcome  again  to 
sight.  For  an  hour  I  enjoy  the  soothing  and  vital  scene  to  the 
low  splash  of  waves — new  stars  steadily,  noiselessly  rising  in  the 
east. 

As  I  cross  the  Delaware,  one  of  the  deck-hands,  F.  R.,  tells  me 
how  a  woman  jump'd  overboard  and  was  drown'd  a  couple  of 
hours  since.     It  happen'd  in  mid-channel — she  leap'd  from  the 


SPECIMEN  DA  YS. 


139 


forward  part  of  the  boat,  which  went  over  her.  He  saw  her  rise 
♦  on  the  other  side  in  the  swift  running  water,  throw  her  arms  and 
closed  hands  high  up,  (white  hands  and  bare  forearms  in  the 
moonlight  like  a  flash,)  and  then  she  sank.  (I  found  out  after- 
wards that  this  young  fellow  had  promptly  jump'd  in,  swam  after 
the  poor  creature,  and  made,  though  unsuccessfully,  the  bravest 
efforts  to  rescue  her;  but  he  didn't  mention  that  part  at  all  in 
telling  me  the  story.) 

SWALLOWS  ON  THE  RIVER. 
Sept.  3. — Cloudy  and  wet,  and  wind  due  east ;  air  without  pal- 
pable fog,  but  very  heavy  with  moisture — welcome  for  a  change. 
Forenoon,  crossing  the  Delaware,  I  noticed  unusual  numbers  of 
swallows  in  flight,  circling,  darting,  graceful  beyond  description, 
close  to  the  water.  Thick,  around  the  bows  of  the  ferry-boat  as 
she  lay  tied  in  her  slip,  they  flew;  and  as  we  went  out  I  watch'd 
beyond  the  pier-heads,  and  across  the  broad  stream,  their  swift- 
winding  loop-ribands  of  motion,  down  close  to  it,  cutting  and 
intersecting.  Though  I  had  seen  swallows  all  my  life,  seem'd 
as  though  I  never  before  realized  their  peculiar  beauty  and  char- 
acter in  the  landscape.  (Some  time  ago,  for  an  hour,  in  a  huge 
old  country  barn,  watching  these  birds  flying,  recall'd  the  2 2d 
book  of  the  Odyssey,  where  Ulysses  slays  the  suitors,  bringing 
things  to  eclaircissement,  and  Minerva,  swallow-bodied,  darts  up 
through  the  spaces  of  the  hall,  sits  high  on  a  beam,  looks  com- 
placently on  the  show  of  slaughter,  and  feels  in  her  element,  ex- 
ulting, joyous.) 

BEGIN  A  LONG  JAUNT  WEST. 

The  following  three  or  four  months  (Sept.  to  Dec.  '79)  I  made 
quite  a  western  journey,  fetching  up  at  Denver,  Colorado,  and 
penetrating  the  Rocky  Mountain  region  enough  to  get  a  good 
notion  of  it  all.  Left  West  Philadelphia  after  9  o'clock  one 
night,  middle  of  September,  in  a  comfortable  sleeper.  Oblivious 
of  the  two  or  three  hundred  miles  across  Pennsylvania ;  at  Pitts- 
burgh in  the  morning  to  breakfast.  Pretty  good  view  of  the 
city  and  Birmingham — fog  and  damp,  smoke,  coke-furnaces, 
flames,  discolor'd  wooden  houses,  and  vast  collections  of  coal- 
barges.  Presently  a  bit  of  fine  region,  West  Virginia,  the  Pan- 
handle, and  crossing  the  river,  the  Ohio.  By  day  through  the 
latter  State — then  Indiana — and  so  rock'd  to  slumber  for  a  second 
night,  flying  like  lightning  through  Illinois. 

IN  THE  SLEEPER. 
What  a  fierce  weird  pleasure  to  lie  in  my  berth  at  night  in  the 
luxurious  palace-car,  drawn  by  the  mighty  Baldwin — embodying, 
and  filling  me,  too,  full  of  the  swiftest  motion,  and  most  resistless 


x  40  SPE  CI  MEN  DA  VS. 

strength  !  It  is  late,  perhaps  midnight  or  after — distances  join'd 
like  magic — as  we  speed  through  Harrisburg,  Columbus,  Indian- 
apolis. The  element  of  danger  adds  zest  to  it  all.  On  we  go, 
rumbling  and  flashing,  with  our  loud  whinnies  thrown  out  from 
time  to  time,  or  trumpet-blasts,  into  the  darkness.  Passing  the 
homes  of  men,  the  farms,  barns,  cattle — the  silent  villages.  And 
the  car  itself,  the  sleeper,  with  curtains  drawn  and  lights  turn'd 
down — in  the  berths  the  slumberers,  many  of  them  women  and 
children — as  on,  on,  on,  we  fly  like  lightning  through  the  night 
— how  strangely  sound  and  sweet  they  sleep  !  (They  say  the 
French  Voltaire  in  his  time  designated  the  grand  opera  and  a 
ship  of  war  the  most  signal  illustrations  of  the  growth  of  hu- 
manity's and  art's  advance  beyond  primitive  barbarism.  Perhaps 
if  the  witty  philosopher  were  here  these  days,  and  went  in  the 
same  car  with  perfect  bedding  and  feed  from  New  York  to  San 
Francisco,  he  would  shift  his  type  and  sample  to  one  of  our 
American  sleepers.) 

MISSOURI  STATE. 

We  should  have  made  the  run  of  960  miles  from  Philadelphia 
to  St.  Louis  in  thirty-six  hours,  but  we  had  a  collision  and  bad 
locomotive  smash  about  two-thirds  of  the  way,  which  set  us  back. 
So  merely  stopping  over  night  that  time  in  St.  Louis,  I  sped  on 
westward.  As  I  cross'd  Missouri  State  the  whole  distance  by 
the  St.  Louis  and  Kansas  City  Northern  Railroad,  a  fine  early 
autumn  day,  I  thought  my  eyes  had  never  looked  on  scenes  of 
greater  pastoral  beauty.  For  over  two  hundred  miles  successive 
rolling  prairies,  agriculturally  perfect  view'd  by  Pennsylvania  and 
New  Jersey  eyes,  and  dotted  here  and  there  with  fine  timber. 
Yet  fine  as  the  land  is,  it  isn't  the  finest  portion;  (there  is  a 
bed  of  impervious  clay  and  hard-pan  beneath  this  section  that 
holds  water  too  firmly,  "  drowns  the  land  in  wet  weather,  and 
bakes  it  in  dry,"  as  a  cynical  farmer  told  me.)  South  are  some 
richer  tracts,  though  perhaps  the  beauty-spots  of  the  State  are 
the  northwestern  counties.  Altogether,  I  am  clear,  (now,  and 
from  what  I  have  seen  and  learn'd  since,)  that  Missouri,  in  cli- 
mate, soil,  relative  situation,  wheat,  grass,  mines,  railroads, 
and  every  important  materialistic  respect,  stands  in  the  front 
rank  of  the  Union.  Of  Missouri  averaged  politically  and  socially 
I  have  heard  all  sorts  of  talk,  some  pretty  severe — but  I  should 
have  no  fear  myself  of  getting  along  safely  and  comforta- 
bly anywhere  among  the  Missourians.  They  raise  a  good  deal 
of  tobacco.  You  see  at  this  time  quantities  of  the  light  green- 
ish-gray leaves  pulled  and  hanging  out  to  dry  on  temporary 
frameworks  or  rows  of  sticks.  Looks  much  like  the  mullein 
familiar  to  eastern  eyes. 


SPECIMEN  DA  VS. 


141 


LAWRENCE  AND  TOPEKA,  KANSAS. 
We  thought  of  stopping  in  Kansas  City,  but  when  we  got  there 
we  found  a  train  ready  and  a  crowd  of  hospitable  Kansians  to 
take  us  on  to  Lawrence,  to  which  I  proceeded.  I  shall  not  soon 
forget  my  good  days  in  L.,  in  company  with  Judge  Usher  and 
his  sons,  (especially  John  and  Linton,)  true  westerners  of  the 
noblest  type.  Nor  the  similar  days  in  Topeka.  Nor  the  broth- 
erly kindness  of  my  RR.  friends  there,  and  the  city  and  State 
officials.  Lawrence  and  Topeka  are  large,  bustling,  half-rural, 
handsome  cities.  I  took  two  or  three  long  drives  about  the  latter, 
drawn  by  a  spirited  team  over  smooth  roads. 

THE  PRAIRIES. 

And  an  Undelivefd  Speech. 

At  a  large  popular  meeting  at  Topeka — the  Kansas  State  Silver 
Wedding,  fifteen  or  twenty  thousand  people — I  had  been  erro- 
neously bill'd  to  deliver  a  poem.  As  I  seem'd  to  be  made  much 
of,  and  wanted  to  be  good-natured,  I  hastily  pencill'd  out  the 
following  little  speech.  Unfortunately,  (or  fortunately,)  I  had 
such  a  good  time  and  rest,  and  talk  and  dinner,  with  the  U. 
boys,  that  I  let  the  hours  slip  away  and  didn't  drive  over  to  the 
meeting  and  speak  my  piece.     But  here  it  is  just  the  same : 

"  My  friends,  your  bills  announce  me  as  giving  a  poem ;  but  I  have  no 
poem — have  composed  none  for  this  occasion.  And  I  can  honestly  say  I  am 
now  glad  of  it.  Under  these  skies  resplendent  in  September  beauty — amid 
the  peculiar  landscape  you  are  used  to,  but  which  is  new  to  me — these  inter- 
minable and  stately  prairies — in  the  freedom  and  vigor  and  sane  enthusiasm 
of  this  perfect  western  air  and  autumn  sunshine — it  seems  to  me  a  poem 
would  be  almost  an  impertinence.  But  if  you  care  to  have  a  word  from  me, 
I  should  speak  it  about  these  very  prairies ;  they  impress  me  most,  of  all  the 
objective  shows  I  see  or  have  seen  on  this,  my  first  real  visit  to  the  West.  As 
I  have  roll'd  rapidly  hither  for  more  than  a  thousand  miles,  through  fair  Ohio, 
through  bread-raising  Indiana  and  Illinois — through  ample  Missouri,  that 
contains  and  raises  everything;  as  I  have  partially  explor'd  your  charming 
city  during  the  last  two  days,  and,  standing  on  Oread  hill,  by  the  university, 
have  launch'd  my  view  across  broad  expanses  of  living  green,  in  every  direc- 
tion— I  have  again  been  most  impress'd,  I  say,  and  shall  remain  for  the  rest 
of  my  life  most  impress'd,  with  that  feature  of  the  topography  of  your  western 
central  world — that  vast  Something,  stretching  out  on  its  own  unbounded 
scale,  unconfined,  which  there  is  in  these  prairies,  combining  the  real  and 
ideal,  and  beautiful  as  dreams. 

**  I  wonder  indeed  if  the  people  of  this  continental  inland  West  know  how 
much  of  first-class  art  they  have  in  these  prairies — how  original  and  all  your 
own — how  much  of  the  influences  of  a  character  for  your  future  humanity, 
broad,  patriotic,  heroic  and  new?  how  entirely  they  tally  on  land  the  gran- 
deur and  superb  monotony  of  the  skies  of  heaven,  and  the  ocean  with  its 
waters?  how  freeing,  soothing,  nourishing  they  are  to  the  soul? 

"  Then  is  it  not  subtly  they  who  have  given  us  our  leading  modern  Ameri- 
cans, Lincoln  and  Grant? — vast-spread,  average  men — their  foregrounds  of 
character  altogether  practical  and  real,  yet  (to  those  who  have   e'yes  to  see) 


!  42  SPECIMEN  DA  VS. 

with  finest  backgrounds  of  the  ideal,  towering  high  as  any.  And  do  we 
not  see,  in  them,  foreshadovvings  of  the  future  races  that  shall  fill  these 
prairies  ? 

"  Not  but  what  the  Yankee  and  Atlantic  States,  and  every  other  part — 
Texas,  and  the  States  flanking  the  south-east  and  the  Gulf  of  Mexico — the 
Pacific  shore  empire — the  Territories  and  Lakes,  and  the  Canada  line  (the  day 
is  not  yet,  but  it  will  come,  including  Canada  entire) — are  equally  and  inte- 
grally and  indissolubly  this  Nation,  the  sine  qua  non  of  the  human,  political 
and  commercial  New  World.  But  this  favor'd  central  area  of  (in  round 
numbers)  two  thousand  miles  square  seems  fated  to  be  the  home  both  of  what 
I  would  call  America's  distinctive  ideas  and  distinctive  realities." 

ON  TO  DENVER— A  FRONTIER  INCIDENT. 

The  jaunt  of  five  or  six  hundred  miles  from  Topeka  to  Denver 
took  me  through  a  variety  of  country,  but  all  unmistakably  pro- 
lific, western,  American,  and  on  the  largest  scale.  For  a  long 
distance  we  follow  the  line  of  the  Kansas  river,  (I  like  better  the 
old  name,  Kaw,)  a  stretch  of  very  rich,  dark  soil,  famed  for  its 
wheat,  and  call'd  the  Golden  Belt — then  plains  and  plains,  hour 
after  hour — Ellsworth  county,  the  centre  of  the  State — where  I 
must  stop  a  moment  to  tell  a  characteristic  story  of  early  days — 
scene  the  very  spot  where  I  am  passing — time  1868.  In  a  scrim- 
mage at  some  public  gathering  in  the  town,  A.  had  shot  B.  quite 
badly,  but  had  not  kill'd  him.  The  sober  men  of  Ellsworth  con- 
ferr'd  with  one  another  and  decided  that  A.  deserv'd  punish- 
ment. As  they  wished  to  set  a  good  example  and  establish  their 
reputation  the  reverse  of  a  Lynching  town,  they  open  an  in- 
formal court  and  bring  both  men  before  them  for  deliberate 
trial.  Soon  as  this  trial  begins  the  wounded  man  is  led  forward 
to  give  his  testimony.  Seeing  his  enemy  in  durance  and  unarm'd, 
B.  walks  suddenly  up  in  a  fury  and  shoots  A.  through  the  head — 
shoots  him  dead.  The  court  is  instantly  adjourn'd,  and  its  unani- 
mous members,  without  a  word  of  debate,  walk  the  murderer  B. 
out,  wounded  as  he  is,  and  hang  him. 

In  due  time  we  reach  Denver,  which  city  I  fall  in  love  with 
from  the  first,  and  have  that  feeling  confirm'd,  the  longer  I  stay 
there.  One  of  my  pleasantest  days  was  a  jaunt,  via  Platte  canon, 
to  Leadville. 

AN  HOUR  ON  KENOSHA  SUMMIT. 

Jottings  from  the  Rocky  Mountains,  mostly  pencill'd  during  a- 
day's  trip  over  the  South  Park  RR.,  returning  from  Leadville, 
and  especially  the  hour  we  were  detain'd,  (much  to  my  satisfac- 
tion,) at  Kenosha  summit.  As  afternoon  advances,  novelties, 
far-reaching  splendors,  accumulate  under  the  bright  sun  in  this 
pure  air.     But  I  had  better  commence  with  the  day. 

The  confronting  of  Platte  canon  just  at  dawn,  after  a  ten  miles' 
ride  in  early  darkness  on  the  rail  from  Denver — the   seasonable 


SPECIMEN  DA  VS. 


143 


stoppage  at  the  entrance  of  the  canon,  and  good  breakfast  of 
eggs,  trout,  and  nice  griddle-cakes — then  as  we  travel  on,  and  get 
well  in  the  gorge,  all  the  wonders,  beauty,  savage  power  of  the 
scene — the  wild  stream  of  water,  from  sources  of  snows,  brawling 
continually  in  sight  one  side — the  dazzling  sun,  and  the  morning 
lights  on  the  rocks — such  turns  and  grades  in  the  track,  squirm- 
ing around  corners,  or  up  and  down  hills — far  glimpses  of  a 
hundred  peaks,  titanic  necklaces,  stretching  north  and  south — 
the  huge  rightly-named  Dome-rock — and  as  we  dash  along, 
others  similar,  simple,  monolithic,  elephantine. 

AN  EGOTISTICAL  "  FIND." 

"I  have  found  the  law  of  my  own  poems,"  was  the  unspoken 
but  more-and-more  decided  feeling  that  came  to  me  as  I  pass'd, 
hour  after  hour,  amid  all  this  grim  yet  joyous  elemental  abandon 
— this  plenitude  of  material,  entire  absence  of  art,  untrammel'd 
play  of  primitive  Nature — the  chasm,  the  gorge,  the  crystal 
mountain  stream,  repeated  scores,  hundreds  of  miles — the  broad 
handling  and  absolute  uncrampedness  —  the  fantastic  forms, 
bathed  in  transparent  browns,  faint  reds  and  grays,  towering 
sometimes  a  thousand,  sometimes  two  or  three  thousand  feet  high 
— at  their  tops  now  and  then  huge  masses  pois'd,  and  mixing 
with  the  clouds,  with  only  their  outlines,  hazed  in  misty  lilac,  visi- 
ble. ("In  Nature's  grandest  shows,"  says  an  old  Dutch  writer, 
an  ecclesiastic,  "amid  the  ocean's  depth,  if  so  might  be,  or 
countless  worlds  rolling  above  at  night,  a  man  thinks  of  them, 
weighs  all,  not  for  themselves  or  the  abstract,  but  with  reference 
to  his  own  personality,  and  how  they  may  affect  him  or  color  his 
destinies.") 

NEW  SENSES— NEW  JOYS. 

We  follow  the  stream  of  amber  and  bronze  brawling  along  its 
bed,  with  its  frequent  cascades  and  snow-white  foam.  Through 
the  canon  we  fly — mountains  not  only  each  side,  but  seemingly, 
till  we  get  near,  right  in  front  of  us — every  rood  a  new  view 
flashing,  and  each  flash  defying  description — on  the  almost  per- 
pendicular sides,  clinging  pines,  cedars,  spruces,  crimson  sumach 
bushes,  spots  of  wild  grass — but  dominating  all,  those  towering 
rocks,  rocks,  rocks,  bathed  in  delicate  vari-colors,  with  the  clear 
sky  of  autumn  overhead.  New  senses,  new  joys,  seem  develop'd. 
Talk  as  you  like,  a  typical  Rocky  Mountain  canon,  or  a  limitless 
sea-like  stretch  of  the  great  Kansas  or  Colorado  plains,  under 
favoring  circumstances,  tallies,  perhaps  expresses,  certainly  awakes, 
those  grandest  and  subtlest  element-emotions  in  the  human  soul, 
that  all  the  marble  temples  and  sculptures  from  Phidias  to  Thor- 


144 


SPECIMEN  DA  YS. 


waldsen — all  paintings,  poems,  reminiscences,  or  even   music, 
probably  never  can. , 

STEAM-POWER,  TELEGRAPHS,  &c. 
I  get  out  on  a  ten  minutes'  stoppage  at  Deer  creek,  to  enjoy  the 
unequal' d  combination  of  hill,  stone  and  wood.  As  we  speed 
again,  the  yellow  granite  in  the  sunshine,  with  natural  spires, 
minarets,  castellated  perches  far  aloft — then  long  stretches  of 
straight-upright  palisades,  rhinoceros  color — then  gamboge  and 
tinted  chromos.  Ever  the  best  of  my  pleasures  the  cool-fresh 
Colorado  atmosphere,  yet  sufficiently  warm.  Signs  of  man's  rest- 
less advent  and  pioneerage,  hard  as  Nature's  face  is — deserted 
dug-outs  by  dozens  in  the  side-hills — the  scantling  hut,  the  tele- 
graph-pole, the  smoke  of  some  impromptu  chimney  or  outdoor 
fire — at  intervals  little  settlements  of  log-houses,  or  parties 
of  surveyors  or  telegraph  builders,  with  their  comfortable  tents. 
Once,  a  canvas  office  where  you  could  send  a  message  by  elec- 
tricity anywhere  around  the  world  !  Yes,  pronounc'd  signs  of 
the  man  of  latest  dates,  dauntlessly  grappling  with  these  grisliest 
shows  of  the  old  kosmos.  At  several  places  steam  saw-mills, 
with  their  piles  of  logs  and  boards,  and  the  pipes  puffing.  Occa- 
sionally Platte  canon  expanding  into  a  grassy  flat  of  a  few  acres. 
At  one  such  place,  toward  the  end,  where  we  stop,  and  I  get  out 
to  stretch  my  legs,  as  I  look  skyward,  or  rather  mountain-top- 
ward,  a  huge  hawk  or  eagle  (a  rare  sight  here)  is  idly  soaring, 
balancing  along  the  ether,  now  sinking  low  and  coming  quite 
near,  and  then  up  again  in  stately-languid  circles — then  higher, 
higher,  slanting  to  the  north,  and  gradually  out  of  sight. 

AMERICA'S  BACK-BONE. 
I  jot  these  lines  literally  at  Kenosha  summit,  where  we  return, 
afternoon,  and  take  a  long  rest,  10,000  feet  above  sea-level.  At 
this  immense  height  the  South  Park  stretches  fifty  miles  before 
me.  Mountainous  chains  and  peaks  in  every  variety  of  perspec- 
tive, every  hue  of  vista,  fringe  the  view,  in  nearer,  or  middle,  or 
far-dim  distance,  or  fade  on  the  horizon.  We  have  now  reach'd, 
penetrated  the  Rockies,  (Hayden  calls  it  the  Front  Range,)  for 
a  hundred  miles  or  so ;  and  though  these  chains  spread  away  in 
every  direction,  specially  north  and  south,  thousands  and  thou- 
sands farther,  I  have  seen  specimens  of  the  utmost  of  them,  and 
know  henceforth  at  least  what  they  are,  and  what  they  look  like. 
Not  themselves  alone,  for  they  typify  stretches  and  areas  of  half 
the  globe — are,  in  fact,  the  vertebrae  or  back-bone  of  our  hemis- 
phere. As  the  anatomists  say  a  man  is  only  a  spine,  topp'd, 
footed,  breasted  and  radiated,  so  the  whole  Western  world  is,  in 
a  sense,  but  an  expansion  of  these  mountains.     In  South  America 


SPECIMEN  DA  YS. 


145 


they  are  the  Andes,  in  Central  America  and  Mexico  the  Cordil- 
leras, and  in  our  States  they  go  under  different  names — in  Cali- 
fornia the  Coast  and  Cascade  ranges — thence  more  eastwardly 
the  Sierra  Nevadas — but  mainly  and  more  centrally  here  the 
Rocky  Mountains  proper,  with  many  an  elevation  such  as  Lin- 
coln's, Grey's,  Harvard's,  Yale's,  Long's  and  Pike's  peaks,  all 
over  14,000  feet  high.  (East,  the  highest  peaks  of  the  Allegha- 
nies,  the  Adirondacks,  the  Cattskills,  and  the  White  Mountains, 
range  from  2000  to  5500  feet — only  Mount  Washington,  in  the 
latter,  6300  feet.) 

THE  PARKS. 

In  the  midst  of  all  here,  lie  such  beautiful  contrasts  as  the 
sunken  basins  of  the  North,  Middle,  and  South  Parks,  (the  latter 
I  am  now  on  one  side  of,  and  overlooking,)  each  the  size  of  a 
large,  level,  almost  quandrangular,  grassy,  western  county,  wall'd 
in  by  walls  of  hills,  and  each  park  the  source  of  a  river.  The 
ones  I  specify  are  the  largest  in  Colorado,  but  the  whole  of  that 
State,  and  of  Wyoming,  Utah,  Nevada  and  western  California, 
through  their  sierras  and  ravines,  are  copiously  mark'd  by  similar 
spreads  and  openings,  many  of  the  small  ones  of  paradisiac  love- 
liness and  perfection,  with  their  offsets  of  mountains,  streams, 
atmosphere  and  hues  beyond  compare. 

ART  FEATURES. 

Talk,  I  say  again,  of  going  to  Europe,  of  visiting  the  ruins  of 
feudal  castles,  or  Coliseum  remains,  or  kings'  palaces — when  you 
can  come  here.  The  alternations  one  gets,  too ;  after  the  Illi- 
nois and  Kansas  prairies  of  a  thousand  miles — smooth  and  easy 
areas  of  the  corn  and  wheat  of  ten  million  democratic  farms  in 
the  future — here  start  up  in  every  conceivable  presentation  of 
shape,  these  non-utilitarian  piles,  coping  the  skies,  emanating  a 
beauty,  terror,  power,  more  than  Dante  or  Angelo  ever  knew. 
Yes,  I  think  the  chyle  of  not  only  poetry  and  painting,  but  ora- 
tory, and  even  the  metaphysics  and  music  fit  for  the  New  World, 
before  being  finally  assimilated,  need  first  and  feeding  visits  here. 

Mountain  streams. — The  spiritual  contrast  and  etheriality  of 
the  whole  region  consist  largely  to  me  in  its  never-absent  pecu- 
liar streams — the  snows  of  inaccessible  upper  areas  melting  and 
running  down  through  the  gorges  continually.  Nothing  like  the 
water  of  pastoral  plains,  or  creeks  with  wooded  banks  and  turf,  or 
anything  of  the  kind  elsewhere.  The  shapes  that  element  takes  in 
the  shows  of  the  globe  cannot  be  fully  understood  by  an  artist 
until  he  has  studied  these  unique  rivulets. 

Aerial  effects. — But  perhaps  as  I  gaze  around  me  the  rarest 
sight  of  all  is  in  atmospheric  hues.     The  prairies — as  I  cross'd 

13 


j  46  SPECIMEN  DA  YS. 

them  in  my  journey  hither — and  these  mountains  and  parks, 
seem  to  me  to  afford  new  lights  and  shades.  Everywhere  the 
aerial  gradations  and  sky-effects  inimitable;  nowhere  else  such 
perspectives,  such  transparent  lilacs  and  grays.  I  can  conceive 
of  some  superior  landscape  painter,  some  fine  colorist,  after 
sketching  awhile  out  here,  discarding  all  his  previous  work,  de- 
lightful to  stock  exhibition  amateurs,  as  muddy,  raw  and  artifi- 
cial. Near  one's  eye  ranges  an  infinite  variety;  high  up,  the 
bare  whitey -brown,  above  timber  line ;  in  certain  spots  afar 
patches  of  snow  any  time  of  year  ;  (no  trees,  no  flowers,  no 
birds,  at  those  chilling  altitudes.)  As  I  write  I  see  the  Snowy 
Range  through  the  blue  mist,  beautiful  and  far  off.  I  plainly  see 
the  patches  of  snow. 

DENVER  IMPRESSIONS. 

Through  the  long-lingering  half-light  of  the  most  superb  of 
evenings  we  return'd  to  Denver,  where  I  staid  several  days  leis- 
urely exploring,  receiving  impressions,  with  which  I  may  as  well 
taper  off  this  memorandum,  itemizing  what  I  saw  there.  The 
best  was  the  men,  three-fourths  of  them  large,  able,  calm,  alert, 
American.  And  cash !  why  they  create  it  here.  Out  in  the 
smelting  works,  (the  biggest  and  most  improv'd  ones,  for  the 
precious  metals,  in  the  world,)  I  saw  long  rows  of  vats,  pans, 
cover'd  by  bubbling-boiling  water,  and  fill'd  with  pure  silver,  four 
or  five  inches  thick,  many  thousand  dollars'  worth  in  a  pan.  The 
foreman  who  was  showing  me  shovel'd  it  carelessly  up  with  a 
little  wooden  shovel,  as  one  might  toss  beans.  Then  large  silver 
bricks,  worth  $2000  a  brick,  dozens  of  piles,  twenty  in  a  pile. 
In  one  place  in  the  mountains,  at  a  mining  camp,  I  had  a  few 
days  before  seen  rough  bullion  on  the  ground  in  the  open  air, 
like  the  confectioner's  pyramids  at  some  swell  dinner  in  New 
York.  (Such  a  sweet  morsel  to  roll  over  with  a  poor  author's  pen 
and  ink — and  appropriate  to  slip  in  here — that  the  silver  product 
of  Colorado  and  Utah,  with  the  gold  product  of  California,  New 
Mexico,  Nevada  and  Dakota,  foots  up  an  addition  to  the  world's 
coin  of  considerably  over  a  hundred  millions  every  year.) 

A  city,  this  Denver,  well-laid  out — Laramie  street,  and  15th 
and  1 6th  and  Champa  streets,  with  others,  particularly  fine — 
some  with  tall  storehouses  of  stone  or  iron,  and  windows  of  plate- 
glass — all  the  streets  with  little  canals  of  mountain  water  running 
along  the  sides — plenty  of  people,  "  business,"  modernness — yet 
not  without  a  certain  racy  wild  smack,  all  its  own.  A  place  of 
fast  horses,  (many  mares  with  their  colts,)  and  I. saw  lots  of  big 
greyhounds  for  antelope  hunting.  Now  and  then  groups  of 
miners,  some  just  come  in,  some  starting  out,  very  picturesque. 


SPECIMEN  DA  VS. 


147 


One  of  the  papers  here  interview' d  me,  and  reported  me  as 
saying  off-hand  :  "  I  have  lived  in  or  visited  all  the  great  cities 
on  the  Atlantic  third  of  the  republic — Boston,  Brooklyn  with  its 
hills,  New  Orleans,  Baltimore,  stately  Washington,  broad  Phila- 
delphia, teeming  Cincinnati  and  Chicago,  and  for  thirty  years  in 
that  wonder,  wash'd  by  hurried  and  glittering  tides,  my  own 
New  York,  not  only  the  New  World's  but  the  world's  city — but, 
newcomer  to  Denver  as  I  am,  and  threading  its  streets,  breath- 
ing its  air,  warm'd  by  its  sunshine,  and  having  what  there  is  of 
its  human  as  well  as  aerial  ozone  flash 'd  upon  me  now  for  only 
three  or  four  days,  I  am  very  much  like  a  man  feels  sometimes 
toward  certain  people  he  meets  with,  and  warms  to,  and  hardly 
knows  why.  I,  too,  can  hardly  tell  why,  but  as  I  enter'd  the  city 
in  the  slight  haze  of  a  late  September  afternoon,  and  have  breath'd 
its  air,  and  slept  well  o'  nights,  and  have  roam'd  or  rode  leisurely, 
and  watch'd  the  comers  and  goers  at  the  hotels,  and  absorb'd 
the  climatic  magnetism  of  this  curiously  attractive  region,  there 
has  steadily  grown  upon  me  a  feeling  of  affection  for  the  spot, 
which,  sudden  as  it  is,  has  become  so  definite  and  strong  that  I 
must  put  it  on  record." 

v  So  much  for  my  feeling  toward  the  Queen  city  of  the  plains 
and  peaks,  where  she  sits  in  her  delicious  rare  atmosphere,  over 
5000  feet  above  sea-level,  irrigated  by  mountain  streams,  one  way 
looking  east  over  the  prairies  for  a  thousand  miles,  and  having 
the  other,  westward,  in  constant  view  by  day,  draped  in  their 
violet  haze,  mountain  tops  innumerable.  Yes,  I  fell  in  love  with 
Denver,  and  even  felt  a  wish  to  spend  my  declining  and  dying 
days  there. 

I  TURN  SOUTH— AND  THEN  EAST  AGAIN. 

Leave  Denver  at  8  a.  m.  by  the  Rio  Grande  RR.  going  south. 
Mountains  constantly  in  sight  in  the  apparently  near  distance, 
veil'd  slightly,  but  still  clear  and  very  grand — their  cones,  colors, 
sides,  distinct  against  the  sky — hundreds,  it  seem'd  thousands, 
interminable  necklaces  of  them,  their  tops  and  slopes  hazed 
more  or  less  slightly  in  that  blue-gray,  under  the  autumn  sun,  for 
over  a  hundred  miles — the  most  spiritual  show  of  objective  Na- 
ture I  ever  beheld,  or  ever  thought  possible.  Occasionally  the 
light  strengthens,  making  a  contrast  of  yellow-tinged  silver  on 
one  side,  with  dark  and  shaded  gray  on  the  other.  I  took  a  long 
look  at  Pike's  peak,  and  was  a  little  disappointed.  (I  suppose  I 
had  expected  something  stunning.)  Our  view  over  plains  to  the 
left  stretches  amply,  with  corrals  here  and  there,  the  frequent 
cactus  and  wild  sage,  and  herds  of  cattle  feeding.  Thus  about 
120  miles  to  Pueblo.     At  that   town  we  board  the  comfortable 


148 


SPECIMEN  DA  KS*. 


and  well-equipt  Atchison,  Topeka  and  Santa  Fe  RR.,  now  strik- 
ing east. 

UNFULFILL'D  WANTS— THE  ARKANSAS  RIVER. 

I  had  wanted  to  go  to  the  Yellowstone  river  region — wanted 
specially  to  see  the  National  Park,  and  the  geysers  and  the  "  hoo- 
doo" or  goblin  land  of  that  country;  indeed,  hesitated  a  little  at 
Pueblo,  the  turning  point — wanted  to  thread  the  Veta  pass — wanted 
to  go  over  the  Santa  Fe  trail  away  southwestward  to  New  Mexico 
— but  turn'd  and  set  my  face  eastward — leaving  behind  me  whet- 
ting glimpse-tastes  of  southeastern  Colorado,  Pueblo,  Bald  moun- 
tain, the  Spanish  peaks,  Sangre  de  Christos,  Mile-Shoe-curve 
(which  my  veteran  friend  on  the  locomotive  told  me  was  "  the 
boss  railroad  curve  of  the  universe,")  fort  Garland  on  the  plains, 
Veta,  and  the  three  great  peaks  of  the  Sierra  Blancas. 

The  Arkansas  river  plays  quite  a  part  in  the  whole  of  this  re- 
gion— I  see  it,  or  its  high-cut  rocky  northern  shore,  for  miles,  and 
cross  and  recross  it  frequently,  as  it  winds  and  squirms  like  a 
snake.  The  plains  vary  here  even  more  than  usual — sometimes  a 
long  sterile  stretch  of  scores  of  miles — then  green,  fertile  and 
grassy,  an  equal  length.  Some  very  large  herds  of  sheep.  (One 
wants  new  words  in  writing  about  these  plains,  and  all  the  inland 
American  West — the  terms,  far,  large,  vast,  &c,  are  insufficient.) 

A  SILENT  LITTLE  FOLLOWER— THE  COREOPSIS. 

Here  I  must  say  a  word  about  a  little  follower,  present  even  now 
before  my  eyes.  I  have  been  accompanied  on  my  whole  journey 
from  Barnegat  to  Pike's  Peak  by  a  pleasant  floricultural  friend, 
or  rather  millions  of  friends — nothing  more  or  less  than  a  hardy 
little  yellow  five-petal' d  September  and  October  wild -flower, 
growing  I  think  everywhere  in  the  middle  and  northern  United 
States.  I  had  seen  it  on  the  Hudson  and  over  Long  Island,  and 
along  the  banks  of  the  Delaware  and  through  New  Jersey,  (as 
years  ago  up  the  Connecticut,  and  one  fall  by  Lake  Champlain.) 
This  trip  it  follow'd  me  regularly,  with  its  slender  stem  and  eyes 
of  gold,  from  Cape  May  to  the  Kaw  valley,  and  so  through  the 
canons  and  to  these  plains.  In  Missouri  I  saw  immense  fields  all 
bright  with  it.  Toward  western  Illinois  I  woke  up  one  morning 
in  the  sleeper  and  the  first  thing  when  I  drew  the  curtain  of  my 
berth  and  look'd  out  was  its  pretty  countenance  and  bending 
neck. 

Sept  25th. — Early  morning — still  going  east  after  we  leave 
Sterling,  Kansas,  where  I  stopp'd  a  day  and  night.  The  sun  up 
about  half  an  hour;  nothing  can  be  fresher  or  more  beautiful 
than  this  time,  this  region.  I  see  quite  a  field  of  my  yellow 
flower  in  full  bloom.    At  intervals  dots  of  nice  two-story  houses, 


SPECIMEN  DA  YS. 


149 


as  we  ride  swiftly  by.  Over  the  immense  area,  flat  as  a  floor, 
visible  for  twenty  miles  in  every  direction  in  the  clear  air,  a 
prevalence  of  autumn-drab  and  reddish-tawny  herbage — sparse 
stacks  of  hay  and  enclosures,  breaking  the  landscape — as  we 
rumble  by,  flocks  of  prairie-hens  starting  up.  Between  Sterling 
and  Florence  a  fine  country.  (Remembrances  to  E.  L.,  my  old- 
young  soldier  friend  of  war  times,  and  his  wife  and  boy  at  S.) 

THE  PRAIRIES  AND  GREAT  PLAINS  IN  POETRY. 

{After  traveling  Illinois,  Missouri,  Kansas  and  Colorado?) 

Grand  as  the  thought  that  doubtless  the  child  is  already  born 
who  will  see  a  hundred  millions  of  people,  the  most  prosperous 
and  advanc'd  of  the  world,  inhabiting  these  Prairies,  the  great 
Plains,  and  the  valley  of  the  Mississippi,  I  could  not  help  think- 
ing it  would  be  grander  still  to  see  all  those  inimitable  American 
areas  fused  in  the  alembic  of  a  perfect  poem,  or  other  esthetic 
work,  entirely  western,  fresh  and  limitless — altogether  our  own, 
without  a  trace  or  taste  of  Europe's  soil,  reminiscence,  technical 
letter  or  spirit.  My  days  and  nights,  as  I  travel  here — what  an 
exhilaration  ! — not  the  air  alone,  and  the  sense  of  vastness,  but 
every  local  sight  and  feature.  Everywhere  something  character- 
istic— the  cactuses,  pinks,  buffalo  grass,  wild  sage — the  receding 
perspective,  and  the  far  circle-line  of  the  horizon  all  times  of 
day,  especially  forenoon — the  clear,  pure,  cool,  rarefied  nutriment 
for  the  lungs,  previously  quite  unknown — the  black  patches  and 
streaks  left  by  surface-conflagrations — the  deep-plough'd  furrow 
of  the  "fire-guard" — the  slanting  snow-racks  built  all  along  to 
shield  the  railroad  from  winter  drifts — the  prairie-dogs  and  the 
herds  of  antelope — the  curious  "dry  rivers" — occasionally  a 
"  dug-out  "  or  corral — Fort  Riley  and  Fort  Wallace — those  towns 
of  the  northern  plains,  (like  ships  on  the  sea,)  Eagle-Tail,  Coy- 
ote, Cheyenne,  Agate,  Monotony,  Kit  Carson — with  ever  the  ant- 
hill and  the  buffalo- wallow — ever  the  herds  of  cattle  and  the  cow- 
boys ("cow-punchers")  to  me  a  strangely  interesting  class, 
bright-eyed  as  hawks,  with  their  swarthy  complexions  and  their 
broad-brimm'd  hats — apparently  always  on  horseback,  with  loose 
arms  slightly  raised  and  swinging  as  they  ride. 

THE  SPANISH  PEAKS— EVENING  ON  THE  PLAINS. 
Between  Pueblo  and  Bent's  fort,  southward,  in  a  clear  after- 
noon sun-spell  I  catch  exceptionally  good  glimpses  of  the  Spanish 
peaks.  We  are  on  southeastern  Colorado — pass  immense  herds 
of  cattle  as  our  first-class  locomotive  rushes  us  along — two  or  three 
times  crossing  the  Arkansas,  which  we  follow  many  miles,  and 
of  which  river  I  get  fine  views,  sometimes  for  quite  a  distance, 
its  stony,  upright,  not  very  high,  palisade  banks,  and  then  its 


i5° 


SPECIMEN  DA  YS. 


muddy  flats.  We  pass  Fort  Lyon — lots  of  adobie  houses — limit- 
less pasturage,  appropriately  fleck'd  with  those  herds  of  cattle — 
in  due  time  the  declining  sun  in  the  west — a  sky  of  limpid  pearl 
over  all — and  so  evening  on  the  great  plains.  A  calm,  pensive, 
boundless  landscape — the  perpendicular  rocks  of  the  north  Ar- 
kansas, hued  in  twilight — a  thin  line  of  violet  on  the  southwest- 
ern horizon — the  palpable  coolness  and  slight  aroma — a  belated 
cow-boy  with  some  unruly  member  of  his  herd — an  emigrant 
wagon  toiling  yet  a  little  further,  the  horses  slow  and  tired — two 
men,  apparently  father  and  son,  jogging  along  on  foot — and 
around  all  the  indescribable  chiaroscuro  and  sentiment,  (pro- 
founder  than  anything  at  sea,)  athwart  these  endless  wilds. 

AMERICA'S  CHARACTERISTIC  LANDSCAPE. 

Speaking  generally  as  to  the  capacity  and  sure  future  destiny 
of  that  plain  and  prairie  area  (larger  than  any  European  king- 
dom) it  is  the  inexhaustible  land  of  wheat,  maize,  wool,  flax,  coal, 
iron,  beef  and  pork,  butter  and  cheese,  apples  and  grapes — land  of 
ten  million  virgin  farms — to  the  eye  at  present  wild  and  unproduc- 
tive— yet  experts  say  that  upon  it  when  irrigated  may  easily  be 
grown  enough  wheat  to  feed  the  world.  Then  as  to  scenery 
(giving  my  own  thought  and  feeling,)  while  I  know  the  standard 
claim  is  that  Yosemite,  Niagara  falls,  the  upper  Yellowstone  and 
the  like,  afford  the  greatest  natural  shows,  I  am  not  so  sure  but 
the  Prairies  and  Plains,  while  less  stunning  at  first  sight,  last 
longer,  fill  the  esthetic  sense  fuller,  precede  all  the  rest,  and  make 
North  America's  characteristic  landscape. 

Indeed  through  the  whole  of  this  journey,  with  all  its  shows 
and  varieties,  what  most  impress'd  me,  and  will  longest  remain 
with  me,  are  these  same  prairies.  Day  after  day,  and  night  after 
night,  to  my  eyes,  to  all  my  senses — the  esthStic  one  most  of  all 
— they  silently  and  broadly  unfolded.  Even  their  simplest  sta- 
tistics are  sublime. 

EARTH'S  MOST  IMPORTANT  STREAM. 
The  valley  of  the  Mississippi  river  and  its  tributaries,  (this 
stream  and  its  adjuncts  involve  a  big  part  of  the  question,)  com- 
prehends more  than  twelve  hundred  thousand  square  miles,  the 
greater  part  prairies.  It  is  by  far  the  most  important  stream  on 
the  globe,  and  would  seem  to  have  been  marked  out  by  design, 
slow-flowing  from  north  to  south,  through  a  dozen  climates,  all 
fitted  for  man's  healthy  occupancy,  its  outlet  unfrozen  all  the 
year,  and  its  line  forming  a  safe,  cheap  continental  avenue  for 
commerce  and  passage  from  the  north  temperate  to  the  torrid 
zone.  Not  even  the  mighty  Amazon  (though  larger  in  volume) 
on  its  line  of  east  and  west — not  the  Nile  in  Africa,  nor  the  Dan- 


SPECIMEN  DA  VS. 


r5i 


ube  in  Europe,  nor  the  three  great  rivers  of  China,  compare  with 
it.  Only  the  Mediterranean  sea  has  play'd  some  such  part  in 
history,  and  all  through  the  past,  as  the  Mississippi  is  destined  to 
play  in  the  future.  By  its  demesnes,  water'd  and  welded  by  its 
branches,  the  Missouri,  the  Ohio,  the  Arkansas,  the  Red,  the 
Yazoo,  the  St.  Francis  and  others,  it  already  compacts  twenty- 
five  millions  of  people,  not  merely  the  most  peaceful  and  money- 
making,  but  the  most  restless  and  warlike  on  earth.  Its  valley, 
or  reach,  is  rapidly  concentrating  the  political  power  of  the 
American  Union.  One  almost  thinks  it  is  the  Union — or 
soon  will  be.  Take  it  out,  with  its  radiations,  and  what  would 
be  left?  From  the  car  windows  through  Indiana,  Illinois,  Mis- 
souri, or  stopping  some  days  along  the  Topeka  and  Santa  Fe 
road,  in  southern  Kansas,  and  indeed  wherever  I  went,  hundreds 
and  thousands  of  miles  through  this  region,  my  eyes  feasted  on 
primitive  and  rich  meadows,  some  of  them  partially  inhabited, 
but  far,  immensely  far  more  untouch'd,  unbroken — and  much  of 
it  more  lovely  and  fertile  in  its  unplough'd  innocence  than  the 
fair  and  valuable  fields  of  New  York's,  Pennsylvania's,  Mary- 
land's or  Virginia's  richest  farms. 

PRAIRIE  ANALOGIES— THE  TREE  QUESTION. 
The  word  Prairie  is  French,  and  means  literally  meadow.  The 
cosmical  analogies  of  our  North  American  plains  are  the  Steppes 
of  Asia,  the  Pampas  and  Llanos  of  South  America,  and  perhaps 
the  Saharas  of  Africa.  Some  think  the  plains  have  been  origi- 
nally lake-beds ;  others  attribute  the  absence  of  forests  to  the 
fires  that  almost  annually  sweep  over  them — (the  cause,  in  vul- 
gar estimation,  of  Indian  summer.)  The  tree  question  will  soon 
become  a  grave  one.  Although  the  Atlantic  slope,  the  Rocky 
mountain  region,  and  the  southern  portion  of  the  Mississippi 
valley,  are  well  wooded,  there  are  here  stretches  of  hundreds  and 
thousands  of  miles  where  either  not  a  tree  grows,  or  often  useless 
destruction  has  prevail'd;  and  the  matter  of  the  cultivation  and 
spread  of  forests  may  well  be  press' d  upon  thinkers  who  look  to 
the  coming  generations  of  the  prairie  States. 

MISSISSIPPI  VALLEY  LITERATURE. 
Lying  by  one  rainy  day  in  Missouri  to  rest  after  quite  a  long 
exploration — first  trying  a  big  volume  I  found  there  of  "  Milton, 
Young,  Gray,  Beattie  and  Collins,"  but  giving  it  up  for  a  bad 
job — enjoying  however  for  awhile,  as  often  before,  the  reading 
of  Walter  Scott's  poems,  "  Lay  of  the  Last  Minstrel,"  "  Mar- 
mion,"  and  so  on — I  stopp'd  and  laid  down  the  book,  and  pon- 
der'd  the  thought  of  a  poetry  that  should  in  due  time  express 
and  supply  the  teeming  region  I  was  in  the  midst  of,  and  have 


j  5  2  SPE  CI  MEN  DA  YS. 

briefly  touch'd  upon.  One's  mind  needs  but  a  moment's  delib- 
eration anywhere  in  the  United  States  to  see  clearly  enough  that 
all  the  prevalent  book  and  library  poets,  either  as  imported  from 
Great  Britain,  or  follow' d  and  doppel-gang d  here,  are  foreign  to 
our  States,  copiously  as  they  are  read  by  us  all.  But  to  fully  un- 
derstand not  only  how  absolutely  in  opposition  to  our  times  and 
lands,  and  how  little  and  cramp'd,  and  what  anachronisms  and 
absurdities  many  of  their  pages  are,  for  American  purposes,  one 
must  dwell  or  travel  awhile  in  Missouri,  Kansas  and  Colorado, 
and  get  rapport  with  their  people  and  country. 

Will  the  day  ever  come — no  matter  how  long  deferr'd — when 
those  models  and  lay-figures  from  the  British  islands — and  even 
the  precious  traditions  of  the  classics — will  be  reminiscences, 
studies  only  ?  The  pure  breath,  primitiveness,  boundless  prodi- 
gality and  amplitude,  strange  mixture  of  delicacy  and  power,  of 
continence,  of  real  and  ideal,  and  of  all  original  and  first-class 
elements,  of  these  prairies,  the  Rocky  mountains,  and  of  the  Mis- 
sissippi and  Missouri  rivers — will  they  ever  appear  in,  and  in  some 
sort  form  a  standard  for  our  poetry  and  art  ?  (I  sometimes  think 
that  even  the  ambition  of  my  friend  Joaquin  Miller  to  put  them 
in,  and  illustrate  them,  places  him  ahead  of  the  whole  crowd.) 

Not  long  ago  I  was  down  New  York  bay,  on  a  steamer,  watch- 
ing the  sunset  over  the  dark  green  heights  of  Navesink,  and  view- 
ing all  that  inimitable  spread  of  shore,  shipping  and  sea,  around 
Sandy  hook.  But  an  intervening  week  or  two,  and  my  eyes 
catch  the  shadowy  outlines  of  the  Spanish  peaks.  In  the  more 
than  two  thousand  miles  between,  though  of  infinite  and  para- 
doxical variety,  a  curious  and  absolute  fusion  is  doubtless  steadily 
annealing,  compacting,  identifying  all.  But  subtler  and  wider 
and  more  solid,  (to  produce  such  compaction,)  than  the  laws  of 
the  States,  or  the  common  ground  of  Congress  or  the  Supreme 
Court,  or  the  grim  welding  of  our  national  wars,  or  the  steel  ties 
of  railroads,  or  all  the  kneading  and  fusing  processes  of  our  mate- 
rial and  business  history,  past  or  present,  would  in  my  opinion  be 
a  great  throbbing,  vital,  imaginative  work,  or  series  of  works,  or 
literature,  in  constructing  which  the  Plains,  the  Prairies,  and  the 
Mississippi  river,  with  the  demesnes  of  its  varied  and  ample  val- 
ley, should  be  the  concrete  background,  and  America's  humanity, 
passions,  struggles,  hopes,  there  and  now — an  eclaircissement  as 
it  is  and  is  to  be,  on  the  stage  of  the  New  World,  of  all  Time's 
hitherto  drama  of  war,  romance  and  evolution — should  furnish 
the  lambent  fire,  the  ideal. 

AN  INTERVIEWER'S  ITEM. 
Oct.  77,  '?p. — To-day  one  of  the  newspapers  of  St.  Louis  prints 
the  following  informal  remarks  of  mine  on  American,  especially 


SPECIMEN  DA  VS. 


153 


Western  literature :  "  We  called  on  Mr.  Whitman  yesterday  and 
after  a  somewhat  desultory  conversation  abruptly  asked  him  :  '  Do 
you  think  we  are  to  have  a  distinctively  American  literature?' 
'  It  seems  to  me,'  said  he,  '  that  our  work  at  present  is  to  lay  the 
foundations  of  a  great  nation  in  products,  in  agriculture,  in  com- 
merce, in  networks  of  intercommunication,  and  in  all  that  relates 
to  the  comforts  of  vast  masses  of  men  and  families,  with  freedom 
of  speech,  ecclesiasticism,  &c.  These  we  have  founded  and  are 
carrying  out  on  a  grander  scale  than  ever  hitherto,  and  Ohio, 
Illinois,  Indiana,  Missouri,  Kansas  and  Colorado,  seem  to  me  to 
be  the  seat  and  field  of  these  very  facts  and  ideas.  Materialistic 
prosperity  in  all  its  varied  forms,  with  those  other  points  that  I 
mentioned,  intercommunication  and  freedom,  are  first  to  be  at- 
tended to.  When  those  have  their  results  and  get  settled,  then  a 
literature  worthy  of  us  will  begin  to  be  defined.  Our  American 
superiority  and  vitality  are  in  the  bulk  of  our  people,  not  in  a 
gentry  like  the  old  world.  The  greatness  of  our  army  during  the 
secession  war,  was  in  the  rank  and  file,  and  so  with  the  nation. 
Other  lands  have  their  vitality  in  a  few,  a  class,  but  we  have  it  in 
the  bulk  of  the  people.  Our  leading  men  are  not  of  much  ac- 
count and  never  have  been,  but  the  average  of  the  people  is  im- 
mense, beyond  all  history.  Sometimes  I  think  in  all  depart- 
ments, literature  and  art  included,  that  will  be  the  way  our  su- 
periority will  exhibit  itself.  We  will  not  have  great  individuals 
or  great   leaders,  but   a  great    average   bulk,    unprecedentedly 

great.'  " 

THE  WOMEN  OF  THE  WEST. 

Kansas  City, — I  am  not  so  well  satisfied  with  what  I  see  of  the 
women  of  the  prairie  cities.  I  am  writing  this  where  I  sit  leisurely 
in  a  store  in  Main  street,  Kansas  city,  a  streaming  crowd  on  the 
sidewalks  flowing  by.  The  ladies  (and  the  same  in  Denver)  are 
all  fashionably  drest,  and  have  the  look  of  "gentility"  in  face, 
manner  and  action,  but  they  do  not  have,  either  in  physique  or 
the  mentality  appropriate  to  them,  any  high  native  originality 
of  spirit  or  body,  (as  the  men  certainly  have,  appropriate  to 
them.)  They  are  "intellectual  "  and  fashionable,  but  dyspeptic- 
looking  and  generally  doll-like ;  their  ambition  evidently  is  to 
copy  their  eastern  sisters.  Something  far  different  and  in  ad- 
vance must  appear,  to  tally  and  complete  the  superb  masculinity 
of  the  West,  and  maintain  and  continue  it. 

THE  SILENT  GENERAL. 
Sept  28,  'fg. — So  General  Grant,  after  circumambiating  the 
world,  has  arrived  home  again — landed  in  San  Francisco  yester- 
day, from  the  ship  City  of  Tokio  from  Japan.     What  a  man  he 


j  1 4  SPECIMEN  DA  VS. 

is  !  what  a  history  !  what  an  illustration — his  life — of  the  capa- 
cities of  that  American  individuality  common  to  us  all.  Cyni- 
cal critics  are  wondering  "  what  the  people  can  see  in  Grant" 
to  make  such  a  hubbub  about.  They  aver  (and  it  is  no  doubt 
true)  that  he  has  hardly  the  average  of  our  day's  literary  and 
scholastic  culture,  and  absolutely  no  pronounc'd  genius  or  con- 
ventional eminence  of  any  sort.  Correct :  but  he  proves  how 
an  average  western  farmer,  mechanic,  boatman,  carried  by  tides  of 
circumstances,  perhaps  caprices,  into  a  position  of  incredible 
military  or  civic  responsibilities,  (history  has  presented  none  more 
trying,  no  born  monarch's,  no.  mark  more  shining  for  attack  or 
envy,)  may  steer  his  way  fitly  and  steadily  through  them  all,  car- 
rying the  country  and  himself  with  credit  year  after  year — com- 
mand over  a  million  armed  men — fight  more  than  fifty  pitch'd 
battles — rule  for  eight  years  a  land  larger  than  all  the  kingdoms 
of  Europe  combined — and  then,  retiring,  quietly  (with  a  cigar  in 
his  mouth)  make  the  promenade  of  the  whole  world,  through 
its  courts  and  coteries,  and  kings  and  czars  and  mikados,  and 
splendidest  glitters  and  etiquettes,  as  phlegmatically  as  he  ever 
walk'd  the  portico  of  a  Missouri  hotel  after  dinner.  I  say  all 
this  is  what  people  like — and  I  am  sure  I  like  it.  Seems  to  me 
it  transcends  Plutarch.  How  those  old  Greeks,  indeed,  would 
have  seized  on  him !  A  mere  plain  man — no  art,  no  poetry — 
only  practical  sense,  ability  to  do,  or  try  his  best  to  do,  what  de- 
volv'd  upon  him.  A  common  trader,  money-maker,  tanner, 
farmer  of  Illinois — general  for  the  republic,  in  its  terrific  struggle 
with  itself,  in  the  war  of  attempted  secession — President  follow- 
ing, (a  task  of  peace,  more  difficult  than  the  war  itself) — noth- 
ing heroic,  as  the  authorities  put  it — and  yet  the  greatest  hero. 
The  gods,  the  destinies,  seem  to  have  concentrated  upon  him. 

PRESIDENT  HAYES'S  SPEECHES. 

Sept.  jo. — I  see  President  Hayes  has  come  out  West,  passing 
quite  informally  from  point  to  point,  with  his  wife  and  a  small 
cortege  of  big  officers,  receiving  ovations, and  making  daily  and 
sometimes  double-daily  addresses  to  the  people.  To  these  ad- 
dresses— all  impromptu,  and  some  would  call  them  ephemeral — ■ 
I  feel  to  devote  a  memorandum.  They  are  shrewd,  good-natur'd, 
face-to-face  speeches,  on  easy  topics  not  too  deep;  but  they  give 
me  some  revised  ideas  of  oratory — of  a  new,  opportune  theory 
and  practice  of  that  art,  quite  changed  from  the  classic  rules, 
and  adapted  to  our  days,  our  occasions,  to  American  democracy, 
and  to  the  swarming  populations  of  the  West.  I  hear  them  criti- 
cised as  wanting  in  dignity,  but  to  me  they  are  just  what  they 
should  be,  considering  all  the  circumstances,  who  they  come  from, 


SPECIMEN  DA  VS. 


J55 


and  who  they  are  address'd  to.  Underneath,  his  objects  are  to 
compact  and  fraternize  the  States,  encourage  their  materialistic 
and  industrial  development,  soothe  and  expand  their  self-poise, 
and  tie  all  and  each  with  resistless  double  ties  not  only  of  inter- 
trade  barter,  but  human  comradeship. 

From  Kansas  city  I  went  on  to  St.  Louis,  where  I  remain'd 
nearly  three  months,  with  my  brother  T.  J.  W.,  and  my  dear 

nieces. 

ST.  LOUIS  MEMORANDA. 

Oct.,  Nov.,  and  Dec,  '/p. — The  points  of  St.  Louis  are  its 
position,  its  absolute  wealth,  (the  long  accumulations  of  time 
and  trade,  solid  riches,  probably  a  higher  average  thereof  than 
any  city,)  the  unrivall'd  amplitude  of  its  well-laid  out  environage 
of  broad  plateaus,  for  future  expansion — and  the  great  State  of 
which  it  is  the  head.  It  fuses  northern  and  southern  qualities, 
perhaps  native  and  foreign  ones,  to  perfection,  rendezvous  the 
whole  stretch  of  the  Mississippi  and  Missouri  rivers,  and  its 
American  electricity  goes  well  with  its  German  phlegm.  Fourth, 
Fifth  and  Third  streets  are  store-streets,  showy,  modern,  metro- 
politan, with  hurrying  crowds,  vehicles,  horse-cars,  hubbub,  plenty 
of  people,  rich  goods,  plate-glass  windows,  iron  fronts  often  five 
or  six  stories  high.  You  can  purchase  anything  in  St.  Louis  (in 
most  of  the  big  western  cities  for  the  matter  of  that)  just  as 
readily  and  cheaply  as  in  the  Atlantic  marts.  Often  in  going 
about  the  town  you  see  reminders  of  old,  even  decay'd  civiliza- 
tion. The  water  of  the  west,  in  some  places,  is  not  good,  but 
they  make  it  up  here  by  plenty  of  very  fair  wine,  and  inexhausti- 
ble quantities  of  the  best  beer  in  the  world.  There  are  immense 
establishments  for  slaughtering  beef  and  pork — and  I  saw  flocks 
of  sheep,  5000  in  a  flock.  (In  Kansas  city  I  had  visited  a  pack- 
ing establishment  that  kills  and  packs  an  average  of  2500  hogs  a 
day  the  whole  year  round,  for  export.  Another  in  Atchison, 
Kansas,  same  extent ;  others  nearly  equal  elsewhere.  And  just 
as  big  ones  here.) 

NIGHTS  ON  THE  MISSISSIPPI. 
Oct.  29th,  30th,  andjist. — Wonderfully  fine,  with  the  full  har- 
vest moon,  dazzling  and  silvery.  I  have  haunted  the  river  every 
night  lately,  where  I  could  get  a  look  at  the  bridge  by  moon- 
light. It  is  indeed  a  structure  of  perfection  and  beauty  unsurpassa- 
ble, and  I  never  tire  of  it.  The  river  at  present  is  very  low;  I 
noticed  to-day  it  had  much  more  of  a  blue-clear  look  than  usual. 
I  hear  the  slight  ripples,  the  air  is  fresh  and  cool,  and  the  view, 
up  or  down,  wonderfully  clear,  in  the  moonlight.  I  am  out 
pretty  late  :   it  is  so  fascinating,  dreamy.     The  cool  night-air,  all 


X  5  6  SP£C/MEJV  DA  VS. 

the  influences,  the  silence,  with  those  far-off  eternal  stars,  do  me 
good.  I  have  been  quite  ill  of  late.  And  so,  well-near  the  cen- 
tre of  our  national  demesne,  these  night  views  of  the  Mississippi. 

UPON  OUR  OWN  LAND. 

"  Always,  after  supper,  take  a  walk  half  a  mile  long,"  says  an 
old  proverb,  dryly  adding,  "  and  if  convenient  let  it  be  upon  your 
own  land."  I  wonder  does  any  other  nation  but  ours  afford  op- 
portunity for  such  a  jaunt  as  this?  Indeed  has  any  previous 
period  afforded  it  ?  No  one,  I  discover,  begins  to  know  the 
real  geographic,  democratic,  indissoluble  American  Union  in  the 
present,  or  suspect  it  in  the  future,  until  he  explores  these  Central 
States,  and  dwells  awhile  observantly  on  their  prairies,  or  amid 
their  busy  towns,  and  the  mighty  father  of  waters.  A  ride  of 
two  or  three  thousand  miles,  "on  one's  own  land,"  with  hardly 
a  disconnection,  could  certainly  be  had  in  no  other  place  than  the 
United  States,  and  at  no  period  before  this.  If  you  want  to  see 
what  the  railroad  is,  and  how  civilization  and  progress  date  from 
it — how  it  is  the  conqueror  of  crude  nature,  which  it  turns  to 
man's  use,  both  on  small  scales  and  on  the  largest — come  hither 
to  inland  America. 

I  return'd  home,  east,  Jan.  5,  1880,  having  travers'd,  to  and 
fro  and  across,  10,000  miles  and  more.  I  soon  resumed  my  seclu- 
sions down  in  the  woods,  or  by  the  creek,  or  gaddings  about 
cities,  and  an  occasional  disquisition,  as  will  be  seen  following. 

EDGAR  POE'S  SIGNIFICANCE. 

Jan.  1,  7So. — In  diagnosing  this  disease  called  humanity — to 
assume  for  the  nonce  what  seems  a  chief  mood  of  the  personality 
and  writings  of  my  subject — I  have  thought  that  poets,  some- 
where or  other  on  the  list,  present  the  most  mark'd  indications. 
Comprehending  artists  in  a  mass,  musicians,  painters,  actors,  and 
so  on,  and  considering  each  and  all  of  them  as  radiations  or 
flanges  of  that  furious  whirling  wheel,  poetry,  the  centre  and 
axis  of  the  whole,  where  else  indeed  may  we  so  well  investigate 
the  causes,  growths,  tally-marks  of  the  time — the  age's  matter 
and  malady? 

By  common  consent  there  is  nothing  better  for  man  or  woman 
than  a  perfect  and  noble  life,  morally  without  flaw,  happily  bal- 
anced in  activity,  physically  sound  and  pure,  giving  its  due  pro- 
portion, and  no  more,  to  the  sympathetic,  the  human  emotional 
element — a  life,  in  all  these,  unhasting,  unresting,  untiring  to  the 
end.  And  yet  there  is  another  shape  of  personality  dearer  far  to 
the  artist-sense,  (which  likes  the  play  of  strongest  lights  and 
shades,)  where  the  perfect  character,  the  good,  the  heroic,  al- 
though never  attain 'd,  is  never  lost  sight  of,  but  through  failures, 


SPECIMEN  DA  YS. 


157 


sorrows,  temporary  downfalls,  is  return'd  to  again  and  again,  and 
while  often  violated,  is  passionately  adhered  to  as  long  as  mind, 
mtiscles,  voice,  obey  the  power  we  call  volition.  This  sort  of 
personality  we  see  more  or  less  in  Burns,  Byron,  Schiller,  and 
George  Sand.  But  we  do  not  see  it  in  Edgar  Poe.  (All  this  is 
the  result  of  reading  at  intervals  the  last  three  days  a  new  volume 
of  his  poems — I  took  it  on  my  rambles  down  by  the  pond,  and  by 
degrees  read  it  all  through  there.)  While  to  the  character  first 
outlined  the  service  Poe  renders  is  certainly  that  entire  contrast 
and  contradiction  which  is  next  best  to  fully  exemplifying  it. 

Almost  without  the  first  sign  of  moral  principle,  or  of  the  con- 
crete or  its  heroisms,  or  the  simpler  affections  of  the  heart,  Poe's 
verses  illustrate  an  intense  faculty  for  technical  and  abstract 
beauty,  with  the  rhyming  art  to  excess,  an  incorrigible  propensity 
toward  nocturnal  themes,  a  demoniac  undertone  behind  every 
page — and,  by  final  judgment,  probably  belong  among  the  elec- 
tric lights  of  imaginative  literature,  brilliant  and  dazzling,  but 
with  no  heat.  There  is  an  indescribable  magnetism  about  the 
poet's  life  and  reminiscences,  as  well  as  the  poems.  To  one  who 
could  work  out  their  subtle  retracing  and  retrospect,  the  latter 
would  make  a  close  tally  no  doubt  between  the  author's  birth 
and  antecedents,  his  childhood  and  youth,  his  physique,  his  so- 
call'd  education,  his  studies  and  associates,  the  literary  and  social 
Baltimore,  Richmond,  Philadelphia  and  New  York,  of  those 
times — not  only  the  places  and  circumstances  in  themselves,  but 
often,  very  often,  in  a  strange  spurning  of,  and  reaction  from 
them  all. 

The  following  from  a  report  in  the  Washington  "Star"  of 
November  16,  1875,  may  afford  those  who  care  for  it  something 
further  of  my  point  of  view  toward  this  interesting  figure  and 
influence  of  our  era.  There  occurr'd  about  that  date  in  Balti- 
more a  public  reburial  of  Poe's  remains,  and  dedication  of  a 
monument  over  the  grave  : 

"  Being  in  Washington  on  a  visit  at  the  time,  '  the  old  gray'  went  over  to 
Baltimore,  and  though  ill  from  paralysis,  consented  to  hobble  up  and  silently 
take  a  seat  on  the  platform,  but  refused  to  make  any  speech,  saying, '  I  have 
felt  a  strong  impulse  to  come  over  and  be  here  to-day  myself  in  memory  of 
Poe,  which  I  have  obey'd,  but  not  the  slightest  impulse  to  make  a  speech, 
which,  my  dear  friends,  must  also  be  obeyed.'  In  an  informal  circle,  however, 
in  conversation  after  the  ceremonies,  Whitman  said :  '  For  a  long  while,  and 
until  lately,  I  had  a  distaste  for  Poe's  writings.  I  wanted,  and  still  want  for 
poetry,  the  clear  sun  shining,  and  fresh  air  blowing — the  strength  and  power 
of  health,  not  of  delirium,  even  amid  the  stormiest  passions — with  always  the 
background  of  the  eternal  moralities.  Non-complying  with  these  requirements, 
Poe's  genius  has  yet  conquer'd  a  special  recognition  for  itself,  and  I  too  have 
come  to  fully  admit  it,  and  appreciate  it  and  him. 

"  '  In  a  dream  I  once  had,  I  saw  a  vessel  on  the  sea,  at  midnight,  in  a  storm. 


I58  SPECIMEN  DAYS. 

It  was  no  great  full-rigg'd  ship,  nor  majestic  steamer,  steering  firmly  through 
the  gale,  but  seem'd  one  of  those  superb  little  schooner  yachts  I  had  often  seen 
lying  anchor'd,  rocking  so  jauntily,  in  the  waters  around  New  York,  or  up 
Long  Island  sound — now  flying  uncontroll'd  with  torn  sails  and  broken  spars 
through  the  wild  sleet  and  winds  and  waves  of  the  night.  On  the  deck  was  a 
slender,  slight,  beautiful  figure,  a  dim  man,  apparently  enjoying  all  the  terror, 
the  murk,  and  the  dislocation  of  which  he  was  the  centre  and  the  victim. 
That  figure  of  my  lurid  dream  might  stand  for  Edgar  Poe,  his  spirit,  his  for- 
tunes, and  his  poems — themselves  all  lurid  dreams.'  " 

Much  more  may  be  said,  but  I  most  desired  to  exploit  the  idea 
put  at  the  beginning.  By  its  popular  poets  the  calibres  of  an 
age,  the  weak  spots  of  its  embankments,  its  sub-currents,  (often 
more  significant  than  the  biggest  surface  ones,)  are  unerringly 
indicated.  The  lush  and  the  weird  that  have  taken  such  extra- 
ordinary possession  of  Nineteenth  century  verse-lovers — what 
mean  they?  The  inevitable  tendency  of  poetic  culture  to  mor- 
bidity, abnormal  beauty — the  sickliness  of  all  technical  thought 
or  refinement  in  itself — the  abnegation  of  the  perennial  and 
democratic  concretes  at  first  hand,  the  body,  the  earth  and  sea, 
sex  and  the  like — and  the  substitution  of  something  for  them  at 
second  or  third  hand — what  bearings  have  they  on  current  path- 
ological study  ? 

BEETHOVEN'S  SEPTETTE. 

Feb.  n,  y8o. — At  a  good  concert  to-night  in  the  foyer  of  the 
opera  house,  Philadelphia — the  band  a  small  but  first-rate  one. 
Never  did  music  more  sink  into  and  soothe  and  fill  me— never  so 
prove  its  soul-rousing  power,  its  impossibility  of  statement.  Es- 
pecially in  the  rendering  of  one  of  Beethoven's  master  septettes 
by  the  well-chosen  and  perfectly-combined  instruments  (violins, 
viola,  clarionet,  horn,  'cello  and  contrabass,)  was  I  carried  away, 
seeing,  absorbing  many  wonders.  Dainty  abandon,  sometimes 
as  if  Nature  laughing  on  a  hillside  in  the  sunshine ;  serious  and 
firm  monotonies,  as  of  winds ;  a  horn  sounding  through  the 
tangle  of  the  forest,  and  the  dying  echoes;  soothing  floating  of 
waves,  but  presently  rising  in  surges,  angrily  lashing,  muttering, 
heavy;  piercing  peals  of  laughter,  for  interstices;  now  and  then 
weird,  as  Nature  herself  is  in  certain  moods — but  mainly  spon- 
taneous, easy,  careless — often  the  sentiment  of  the  postures  of 
naked  children  playing  or  sleeping.  It  did  me  good  even  to 
watch  the  violinists  drawing  their  bows  so  masterly — every  mo- 
tion a  study.  I  allow'd  myself,  as  I  sometimes  do,  to  wander 
out  of  myself.  The  conceit  came  to  me  of  a  copious  grove  of 
singing  birds,  and  in  their  midst  a  simple  harmonic  duo,  two 
human  souls,  steadily  asserting  their  own  pensiveness,  joyous- 
ness. 


SPECIMEN  DA  YS. 


*59 


A  HINT  OF  WILD  NATURE. 
Feb.  IJ. — As  I  was  crossing  the  Delaware  to-day,  saw  a  large 
flock  of  wild  geese,  right  overhead,  not  very  high  up,  ranged  in 
V-shape,  in  relief  against  the  noon  clouds  of  light  smoke-color. 
Had  a  capital  though  momentary  view  of  them,  and  then  of  their 
course  on  and  on  southeast,  till  gradually  fading — (my  eyesight  yet 
first  rate  for  the  open  air  and  its  distances,  but  I  use  glasses  for 
reading.)  Queer  thoughts  melted  into  me  the  two  or  three 
minutes,  or  less,  seeing  these  creatures  cleaving  the  sky — the 
spacious,  airy  realm — even  the  prevailing  smoke-gray  color  every- 
where, (no  sun  shining) — the  waters  below — the  rapid  flight  of  the 
birds,  appearing  just  for  a  minute — flashing  to  me  such  a  hint  of 
the  whole  spread  of  Nature,  with  her  eternal  unsophisticated 
freshness,  her  never-visited  recesses  of  sea,  sky,  shore — and  then 
disappearing  in  the  distance. 

LOAFING  IN  THE  WOODS. 

March  8. — I  write  this  down  in  the  country  again,  but  in  a 
new  spot,  seated  on  a  log  in  the  woods,  warm,  sunny,  midday. 
Have  been  loafing  here  deep  among  the  trees,  shafts  of  tall  pines, 
oak,  hickory,  with  a  thick  undergrowth  of  laurels  and  grapevines 
— the  ground  cover' d  everywhere  by  debris,  dead  leaves,  breakage, 
moss — everything  solitary,  ancient,  grim.  Paths  (such  as  they 
are)  leading  hither  and  yon — (how  made  I  know  not*,  for  nobody' 
seems  to  come  here,  nor  man  nor  cattle-kind.)  Temperature  to- 
day about  60,  the  wind  through  the  pine-tops ;  I  sit  and  listen  to 
its  hoarse  sighing  above  (and  to  the  stillness)  long  and  long, 
varied  by  aimless  rambles  in  the  old  roads  and  paths,  and  by  ex- 
ercise-pulls at  the  young  saplings,  to  keep  my  joints  from  get- 
ting stiff.     Blue-birds,  robins,  meadow-larks  begin  to  appear. 

Next  day,  gth. — A  snowstorm  in  the  morning,  and  continuing 
most  of  the  day.  But  I  took  a  walk  over  two  hours,  the  same 
woods  and  paths,  amid  the  falling  flakes.  No  wind,  yet  the  musi- 
cal low  murmur  through  the  pines,  quite  pronounced,  curious,  like 
waterfalls,  now  still'd,  now  pouring  again.  All  the. senses,  sight, 
sound,  smell,  delicately  gratified.  Every  snowflake  lay  where  it 
fell  on  the  evergreens,  holly-trees,  laurels,  &c,  the  multitudinous 
leaves  and  branches  piled,  bulging-white,  defined  by  edge-lines 
of  emerald — the  tall  straight  columns  of  the  plentiful  bronze- 
topt  pines — a  slight  resinous  odor  blending  with  that  of  the 
snow.  (For  there  is  a  scent  to  everything,  even  the  snow,  if  you 
can  only  detect  it — no  two  places,  hardly  any  two  hours,  any- 
where, exactly  alike.  How  different  the  odor  of  noon  from 
midnight,  or  winter  from  summer,  or  a  windy  spell  from  a  still 
one.) 


1 60  SPE  CI  MEN  DA  YS. 

A  CONTRALTO  VOICE. 
May  p,  Sunday. — Visit  this  evening  to  my  friends  the  J.'s — 
good  supper,  to  which  I  did  justice — lively  chat  with  Mrs.  J.  and 
I.  and  J.  As  I  sat  out  front  on  the  walk  afterward,  in  the  even- 
ing air,  the  church-choir  and  organ  on  the  corner  opposite  gave 
Luther's  hymn,  Einfeste  berg,  very  finely.  The  air  was  borne  by 
a  rich  contralto.  For  nearly  half  an  hour  there  in  the  dark, 
(there  was  a  good  string  of  English  stanzas,)  came  the  music, 
firm  and  unhurried,  with  long  pauses.  The  full  silver  star-beams 
of  Lyra  rose  silently  over  the  church's  dim  roof-ridge.  Vari- 
color'd  lights  from  the  stain'd  glass  windows  broke  through  the 
tree-shadows.  And  under  all — under  the  Northern  Crown  up 
there,  and  in  the  fresh  breeze  below,  and  the  chiaroscuro  of  the 
night,  that  liquid-full  contralto. 

SEEING  NIAGARA  TO  ADVANTAGE. 

June  4,  '8o. — For  really  seizing  a  great  picture  or  book,  or 
piece  of  music,  or  architecture,  or  grand  scenery — or  perhaps  for 
the  first  time  even  the  common  sunshine,  or  landscape,  or  may-be 
eveji  the  mystery  of  identity,  most  curious  mystery  of  all — there 
comes  some  lucky  five  minutes  of  a  man's  life,  set  amid  a  fortu- 
itous concurrence  of  circumstances,  and  bringing  in  a  brief  flash 
the  culmination  of  years  of  reading  and  travel  and  thought.  The 
present  case  about  two  o'clock  this  afternoon,  gave  me  Niagara,  its 
superb  severity  of  action  and  color  and  majestic  grouping,  in  one 
short,  indescribable  show.  We  were  very  slowly  crossing  the 
Suspension  bridge — not  a  full  stop  anywhere,  but  next  to  it — the 
day  clear,  sunny,  still — and  I  out  on  the  platform.  The  falls 
were  in  plain  view  about  a  mile  off,  but  very  distinct,  and  no  roar 
— hardly  a  murmur.  The  river  tumbling  green  and  white,  far 
below  me ;  the  dark  high  banks,  the  plentiful  umbrage,  many 
bronze  cedars,  in  shadow ;  and  tempering  and  arching  all  the 
immense  materiality,  a  clear  sky  overhead,  with  a  few  white 
clouds,  limpid,  spiritual,  silent.  Brief,  and  as  quiet  as  brief,  that 
picture — a  remembrance  always  afterwards.  Such  are  the  things, 
indeed,  I  lay  away  with  my  life's  rare  and  blessed  bits  of  hours, 
reminiscent,  past — the  wild  sea-storm  I  once  saw  one  winter  day, 
off  Fire  island — the  elder  Booth  in  Richard,  that  famous  night 
forty  years  ago  in  the  old  Bowery — or  Alboni  in  the  children's 
scene  in  Norma — or  night-views,  I  remember,  on  the  field,  after 
battles  in  Virginia — or  the  peculiar  sentiment  of  moonlight  and 
stars  over  the  great  Plains,  western  Kansas — or  scooting  up  New 
York  bay,  with  a  stiff  breeze  and  a  good  yacht,  off  Navesink. 
With  these,  I  say,  I  henceforth  place  that  view,  that  afternoon, 
that  combination  complete,  that  five  minutes'  perfect  absorption 


SPECIMEN  DAYS.  ^i 

of  Niagara — not  the  great  majestic  gem  alone  by  itself,  but  set 
complete  in  all  its  varied,  full,  indispensable  surroundings. 

JAUNTING  TO  CANADA. 
To  go  back  a  little,  I  left  Philadelphia,  9th  and  Green  streets, 
at  8  o'clock  p.  m.,  June  3,  on  a  first-class  sleeper,  by  the  Le- 
high Valley  (North  Pennsylvania)  route,  through  Bethlehem 
Wilkesbarre,  Waverly,  and  so  (by  Erie)  on  through  Corning  to 
Hornellsville,  where  we  arrived  at  8,  morning,  and  had  a  boun- 
teous breakfast.  I  must  say  I  never  put  in  such  a  good  night  on 
any  railroad  track — smooth,  firm,  the  minimum  of  jolting,  and 
all  the  swiftness  compatible  with  safety.  So  without  change  to 
Buffalo,  and  thence  to  Clifton,  where  we  arrived  early  afternoon  ; 
then  on  to  London,  Ontario,  Canada,  in  four  more — less  than 
twenty-two  hours  altogether.  I  am  domiciled  at  the  hospitable 
house  of  my  friends  Dr.  and  Mrs.  Bucke,  in  the  ample  and  charm- 
ing garden  and  lawns  of  the  asylum. 

SUNDAY  WITH  THE  INSANE. 
June  6. — Went  over  to  the  religious  services  (Episcopal)  main 
Insane  asylum,  held  in  a  lofty,  good-sized  hall,  third  story.  Plain 
boards,  whitewash,  plenty  of  cheap  chairs,  no  ornament  or  color, 
yet  all  scrupulously  clean  and  sweet.  Some  three  hundred  per- 
sons present,  mostly  patients.  Everything,  the  prayers,  a  short 
sermon,  the  firm,  orotund  voice  of  the  minister,  and  most  of  all, 
beyond  any  portraying  or  suggesting,  that  audience,  deeply  im- 
press'd  me.  I  was  furnish' d  with  an  arm-chair  near  the  pulpit, 
and  sat  facing  the  motley,  yet  perfectly  well-behaved  and  orderly 
congregation.  The  quaint  dresses  and  bonnets  of  some  of  the 
women,  several  very  old  and  gray,  here  and  there  like  the  heads 
in  old  pictures.  O  the  looks  that  came  from  those  faces !  There 
were  two  or  three  I  shall  probably  never  forget.  Nothing  at  all 
markedly  repulsive  or  hideous — strange  enough  I  did  not  see  one 
such.     Our  common  humanity,  mine  and  yours,  everywhere : 

"  The  same  old  blood — the  same  red,  running  blood;" 

yet  behind  most,  an  inferr'd  arriere  of  such  storms,  such  wrecks, 
such  mysteries,  fires,  love,  wrong,  greed  for  wealth,  religious 
problems,  crosses — mirror' d  from  those  crazed  faces  (yet  now 
temporarily  so  calm,  like  still  waters,)  all  the  woes  and  sad  hap- 
penings of  life  and  death — now  from  every  one  the  devotional 
element  radiating — was  it  not,  indeed,  the  peace  of  God  that  pass- 
eth  all  understanding,  strange  as  it  may  sound  ?  I  can  only  say 
that  I  took  long  and  searching  eye-sweeps  as  I  sat  there,  and  it 
seem'd  so,  rousing  unprecedented  thoughts,  problems  unanswer- 
able.    A  very  fair  choir,  and  melodeon  accompaniment.     They 

14 


162  SPECIMEN  DAYS. 

sang  "  Lead,  kindly  light,"  after  the  sermon.  Many  join'd  in 
the  beautiful  hymn,  to  which  the  minister  read  the  introductory 
text,  *'  In  the  daytime  also  He  led  them  with  a  cloudy  and  all  the 
night  with  a  light  of  fire."     Then  the  words  : 

Lead,  kindly  light,  amid  the  encircling  gloom, 

Lead  thou  me  on. 
The  night  is  dark,  and  I  am  far  from  home ; 

Lead  thou  me  on. 
Keep  thou  my  feet;   I  do  not  ask  to  see 
The  distant  scene ;  one  step  enough  for  me. 

I  was  not  ever  thus,  nor  pray'd  that  thou 

Should'st  lead  me  on ; 
I  lov'd  to  choose  and  see  my  path ;  but  now 

Lead  thou  me  on. 
I  loved  the  garish  day,  and  spite  of  fears 
Pride  ruled  my  will ;  remember  not  past  years. 

A  couple  of  days  after,  I  went  to  the  "  Refractory  building,' 
under  special  charge  of  Dr.  Beemer,  and  through  the  wards 
pretty  thoroughly,  both  the  men's  and  women's.  I  have  since 
made  many  other  visits  of  the  kind  through  the  asylum,  and 
around  among  the  detach' d  cottages.  As  far  as  I  could  see,  this 
is  among  the  most  advanced,  perfected,  and  kindly  and  rationally 
carried  on,  of  all  its  kind  in  America.  It  is  a  town  in  itself, 
with  many  buildings  and  a  thousand  inhabitants. 

I  learn  that  Canada,  and  especially  this  ample  and  populous 
province,  Ontario,  has  the  very  best  and  plentiest  benevolent  in- 
stitutions in  all  departments. 

REMINISCENCE  OF  ELIAS  HICKS. 
June  8. — To-day  a  letter  from  Mrs.  E.  S.  L.,  Detroit,  accom- 
panied in  a  little  post-office  roll  by  a  rare  old  engraved  head  of 
Elias  Hicks,  (from  a  portrait  in  oil  by  Henry  Inman,  painted  for 
J.  V.  S.,  must  have  been  60  years  or  more  ago,  in  New  York) — 
among  the  rest  the  following  excerpt  about  E.  H.  in  the  letter : 

"  I  have  listen'd  to  his  preaching  so  often  when  a  child,  and  sat  with  my 
mother  at  social  gatherings  where  he  was  the  centre,  and  every  one  so  pleas'd 
and  stirr'd  by  his  conversation.  I  hear  that  you  contemplate  writing  or 
speaking  about  him,  and  I  wonder'd  whether  you  had  a  picture  of  him.  As  I 
am  the  owner  of  two,  I  send  you  one." 

GRAND  NATIVE  GROWTH. 
In  a  few  days  I  go  to  lake  Huron,  and  may  have  something  to 
say  of  that  region  and  people.  From  what  I  already  see,  I  should 
say  the  young  native  population  of  Canada  was  growing  up, 
forming  a  hardy,  democratic,  intelligent,  radically  sound,  and 
just  as  American,  good-natured  and  individualistic  race,  as  the 
average  range  of  best  specimens  among  us.     As  among  us,  too, 


SPECIMEN  DA  VS.  1 63 

I  please  myself  by  considering  that  this  element,  though  it  may 
not  be  the  majority,  promises  to  be  the  leaven  which  must  even- 
tually leaven  the  whole  lump. 

A  ZOLLVEREIN  BETWEEN  THE  U.  S.  AND  CANADA. 
'  Some  of  the  more  liberal  of  the  presses  here  are  discussing  the 
question  of  a  zollverein  between  the  United  States  and  Canada. 
It  is  proposed  to  form  a  union  for  commercial  purposes — to  alto- 
gether abolish  the  frontier  tariff  line,  with  its  double  sets  of  cus- 
tom house  officials  now  existing  between  the  two  countries,  and 
to  agree  upon  one  tariff  for  both,  the  proceeds  of  this  tariff  to  be 
divided  between  the  two  governments  on  the  basis  of  population. 
It  is  said  that  a  large  proportion  of  the  merchants  of  Canada  are 
in  favor  of  this  step,  as  they  believe  it  would  materially  add  to 
the  business  of  the  country,  by  removing  the  restrictions  that 
now  exist  on  trade  between  Canada  and  the  States.  Those  per- 
sons who  are  opposed  to  the  measure  believe  that  it  would  in- 
crease the  material  welfare  of  the  country,  but  it  would  loosen 
the  bonds  between  Canada  and  England;  and  this  sentiment 
overrides  the  desire  for  commercial  prosperity.  Whether  the 
sentiment  can  continue  to  bear  the  strain  put  upon  it  is  a  ques- 
tion. It  is  thought  by  many  that  commercial  considerations 
must  in  the  end  prevail.  It  seems  also  to  be  generally  agreed 
that  such  a  zollverein,  or  common  customs  union,  would  bring 
practically  more  benefits  to  the  Canadian  provinces  than  to  the 
United  States.  (It  seems  to  me  a  certainty  of  time,  sooner  or 
later,  that  Canada  shall  form  two  or  three  grand  States,  equal 
and  independent,  with  the  rest  of  the  American  Union.  The  St. 
Lawrence  and  lakes  are  not  for  a  frontier  line,  but  a  grand  inte- 
rior or  mid-channel.) 

•THE  ST.  LAWRENCE  LINE. 
August  20. — Premising  that  my  three  or  four  months  in  Canada 
were  intended,  among  the  rest,  as  an  exploration  of  the  line  of 
the  St.  Lawrence,  from  lake  Superior  to  the  sea,  (the  engineers 
here  insist  upon  considering  it  as  one  stream,  over  2000  miles 
long,  including  lakes  and  Niagara  and  all) — that  I  have  only  par- 
tially carried  out  my  programme  ;  but  for  the  seven  or  eight  hun- 
dred miles  so  far  fulfill' d,  I  find  that  the  Canada  question  is  abso- 
lutely control'd  by  this  vast  water  line,  with  its  first-class  features 
and  points  of  trade,  humanity,  and  many  more — here  I  am  writ- 
ing this  nearly  a  thousand  miles  north  of  my  Philadelphia  starting- 
point  (by  way  of  Montreal  and  Quebec)  in  the  midst  of  regions 
that  go  to  a  further  extreme  of  grimness,  wildness  of  beauty,  and 
a  sort  of  still  and  pagan  scaredness,  while  yet  Christian,  inhabit- 
able, and  partially  fertile,  than  perhaps  any  other  on  earth.     The 


1 64  SPECIMEN  DA  YS. 

weather  remains  perfect ;  some  might  call  it  a  little  cool,  but  I 
wear  my  old  gray  overcoat  and  find  it  just  right.  The  days  are 
full  of  sunbeams  and  oxygen.  Most  of  the  forenoons  and  after- 
noons I  am  on  the  forward  deck  of  the  steamer. 

THE  SAVAGE  SAGUENAY. 
Up  these  black  waters,  over  a  hundred  miles — always  strong, 
deep,  (hundreds  of  feet,  sometimes  thousands,)  ever  with  high, 
rocky  hills  for  banks,  green  and  gray — at  times  a  little  like  some 
parts  of  the  Hudson,  but  much  more  pronounc'd  and  defiant.  The 
hills  rise  higher — keep  their  ranks  more  unbroken.  The  river  is 
straighter  and  of  more  resolute  flow,  and  its  hue,  though  dark  as 
ink,  exquisitely  polish'd  and  sheeny  under  the  August  sun.  Dif- 
ferent, indeed,  this  Saguenay  from  all  other  rivers — different 
effects — a  bolder,  more  vehement  play  of  lights  and  shades.  Of 
a  rare  charm  of  singleness  and  simplicity.  (Like  the  organ-chant 
at  midnight  from  the  old  Spanish  convent,  in  "  Favorita" — one 
strain  only,  simple  and  monotonous  and  unornamented — but  in- 
describably penetrating  and  grand  and  masterful.)  Great  place 
for  echoes :  while  our  steamer  was  tied  at  the  wharf  at  Tadousac 
(taj-oo-sac)  waiting,  the  escape-pipe  letting  off  steam,  I  was  sure 
I  heard  a  band  at  the  hotel  up  in  the  rocks — could  even  make 
out  some  of  the  tunes.  Only  when  our  pipe  stopp'd,  I  knew 
what  caused  it.  Then  at  cape  Eternity  and  Trinity  rock,  the 
pilot  with  his  whistle  producing  similar  marvellous  results,  echoes 
indescribably  weird,  as  we  lay  off  in  the  still  bay  under  their 
shadows. 

CAPES  ETERNITY  AND  TRINITY. 

But  the  great,  haughty,  silent  capes  themselves;  I  doubt  if  any 
crack  points,  or  hills,  or  historic  places  of  note,  or  anything  of 
the  kind  elsewhere  in  the  world,  outvies  these*  objects — (I  write 
while  I  am  before  them  face  to  face.)  They  are  very  simple, 
they  do  not  startle — at  least  they  did  not  me — but  they  linger  in 
one's  memory  forever.  They  are  placed  very  near  each  other, 
side  by  side,  each  a  mountain  rising  flush  out  of  the  Saguenay. 
A  good  thrower  could  throw  a  stone  on  each  in  passing — at  least 
it  seems  so.  Then  they  are  as  distinct  in  form  as  a  perfect  physi- 
cal man  or  a  perfect  physical  woman.  Cape  Eternity  is  bare, 
rising,  as  just  said,  sheer  out  of  the  water,  rugged  and  grim  (yet 
with  an  indescribable  beauty)  nearly  two  thousand  feet  high. 
Trinity  rock,  even  a  little  higher,  also  rising  flush,  top-rounded 
like  a  great  head  with  close-cut  verdure  of  hair.  I  consider  my- 
self well  repaid  for  coming  my  thousand  miles  to  get  the  sight 
and  memory  of  the  unrivall'd  duo.  They  have  stirr'd  me  more 
profoundly  than  anything  of  the  kind  I  have  yet  seen.     If  Europe 


SPECIMEN  DA  YS. 


165 


or  Asia  had  them,  we  should  certainly  hear  of  them  in  all  sorts 
of  sent-back  poems,  rhapsodies,  &c,  a  dozen  times  a  year  through 
our  papers  and  magazines. 

CHICOUTIMI  AND  HA-HA  BAY. 

No  indeed — life  and  travel  and  memory  have  offer'd  and  will 
preserve  to  me  no  deeper-cut  incidents,  panorama,  or  sights  to 
cheer  my  soul,  than  these  at  Chicoutimi  and  Ha-ha  bay,  and  my 
days  and  nights  up  and  down  this  fascinating  savage  river — the 
rounded  mountains,  some  bare  and  gray,  some  dull  red,  some 
draped  close  all  over  with  matted  green  verdure  or  vines — the 
ample,  calm,  eternal  rocks  everywhere — the  long  streaks  of  motley 
foam,  a  milk-white  curd  on  the  glistening  breast  of  the  stream — 
the  little  two-masted  schooner,  dingy  yellow,  with  patch'd  sails, 
set  wing-and-wing,  nearing  us,  coming  saucily  up  the  water  with 
a  couple  of  swarthy,  black-hair'd  men  aboard — the  strong  shades 
falling  on  the  light  gray  or  yellow  outlines  of  the  hills  all  through 
the  forenoon,  as  we  steam  within  gunshot  of  them — while  ever 
the  pure  and  delicate  sky  spreads  over  all.  And  the  splendid  sun- 
sets, and  the  sights  of  evening — the  same  old  stars,  (relatively  a 
little  different,  I  see,  so  far  north)  Arcturus  and  Lyra,  and  the 
Eagle,  and  great  Jupiter  like  a  silver  globe,  and  the  constellation 
of  the  Scorpion.     Then  northern  lights  nearly  every  night. 

THE  INHABITANTS— GOOD  LIVING. 

Grim  and  rocky  and  black- water' d  as  the  demesne  hereabout 
is,  however,  you  must  not  think  genial  humanity,  and  comfort, 
and  good-living  are  not  to  be  met.  Before  I  began  this  memo- 
randum I  made  a  first-rate  breakfast  of  sea-trout,  finishing  off 
with  wild  raspberries.  I  find  smiles  and  courtesy  everywhere — 
physiognomies  in  general  curiously  like  those  in  the  United 
States — (I  wasastonish'd  to  find  the  same  resemblance  all  through 
the  province  of  Quebec.)  In  general  the  inhabitants  of  this 
rugged  country  (Charlevoix,  Chicoutimi  and  Tadousac  counties, 
and  lake  St.  John  region)  a  simple,  hardy  population,  lumbering, 
trapping  furs,  boating,  fishing,  berry-picking  and  a  little  farm- 
ing. I  was  watching  a  group  of  young  boatmen  eating  their 
early  dinner — nothing  but  an  immense  loaf  of  bread,  had  appar- 
ently been  the  size  of  a  bushel  measure,  from  which  they  cut 
chunks  with  a  jack-knife.  Must  be  a  tremendous  winter  country 
this,  when  the  solid  frost  and  ice  fully  set  in. 

CEDAR-PLUMS  LIKE— NAMES. 

(Back  again  in  Camden  and  down  in  Jersey.) 

One  time  I  thought  of  naming  this  collection  "Cedar-Plums 
Like"  (which  I  still  fancy  wouldn't  have  been  a  bad  name,  nor 


166  SPECIMEN  DAYS, 

inappropriate.)  A  melange  of  loafing,  looking,  hobbling,  sit- 
ting, traveling — a  little  thinking  thrown  in  for  salt,  but  very- 
little — not  only  summer  but  all  seasons — not  only  days  but  nights 
— some  literary  meditations — books,  authors  examined,  Carlyle, 
Poe,  Emerson  tried,  (always  under  my  cedar-tree,  in  the  open 
air,  and  never  in  the  library) — mostly  the  scenes  everybody  sees, 
but  some  of  my  own  caprices,  meditations,  egotism — truly  an 
open  air  and  mainly  summer  formation — singly,  or  in  clusters — 
wild  and  free  and  somewhat  acrid — indeed  more  like  cedar-plums 
than  you  might  guess  at  first  glance. 

But  do  you  know  what  they  are  ?  (To  city  man,  or  some  sweet 
parlor  lady,  I  now  talk.)  As  you  go  along  roads,  or  barrens,  or 
across  country,  anywhere  through  these  States,  middle,  eastern, 
western,  or  southern,  you  will  see,  certain  seasons  of  the  year, 
the  thick  woolly  tufts  of  the  cedar  mottled  with  bunches  of 
china-blue  berries,  about  as  big  as  fox-grapes.  But  first  a  special 
word  for  the  tree  itself:  everybody  knows  that  the  cedar  is  a 
healthy,  cheap,  democratic  wood,  streak'd  red  and  white — an 
evergreen — that  it  is  not  a  cultivated  tree — that  it  keeps  away 
moths — that  it  grows  inland  or  seaboard,  all  climates,  hot  or  cold, 
any  soil — in  fact  rather  prefers  sand  and  bleak  side  spots — con- 
tent if  the  plough,  the  fertilizer  and  the  trimming-axe,  will  but 
keep  away  and  let  it  alone.  After  a  long  rain,  when  everything 
looks  bright,  often  have  I  stopt  in  my  wood-saunters,  south  or 
north,  or  far  west,  to  take  in  its  dusky  green,  wash'd  clean  and 
sweet,  and  speck' d  copiously  with  its  fruit  of  clear,  hardy  blue. 
The  wood  of  the  cedar  is  of  use — but  what  profit  on  earth  are 
those  sprigs  of  acrid  plums  ?  A  question  impossible  to  answer 
satisfactorily.  True,  some  of  the  herb  doctors  give  them  for 
stomachic  affections,  but  the  remedy  is  as  bad  as  the  disease. 
Then  in  my  rambles  down  in  Camden  county  I  once  found  an 
old  crazy  woman  gathering  the  clusters  with  zeal  and  joy.  She 
show'd,  as  I  was  told  afterward,  a  sort  of  infatuation  for  them, 
and  every  year  placed  and  kept  profuse  bunches  high  and  low 
about  her  room.  They  had  a  strange  charm  on  her  uneasy  head, 
and  effected  docility  and  peace.  (She  was  harmless,  and  lived 
near  by  with  her  well-off  married  daughter.)  Whether  there  is 
any  connection  between  those  bunches,  and  being  out  of  one's 
wits,  I  cannot  say,  but  I  myself  entertain  a  weakness  for  them. 
Indeed,  I  love  the  cedar,  anyhow — its  naked  ruggedness,  its  just 
palpable  odor,  (so  different  from  the  perfumer's  best,)  its  silence, 
its  equable  acceptance  of  winter's  cold  and  summer's  heat,  of 
rain  or  drouth — its  shelter  to  me  from  those,  at  times — its  asso- 
ciations— (well,  I  never  could  explain  why  I  love  anybody,  or 
anything.)   The  service  I  now  specially  owe  to  the  cedar  is,  while 


SPECIMEN  DA  VS. 


167 


I  cast  around  for  a  name  for  my  proposed  collection,  hesitating, 
puzzled — after  rejecting  a  long,  long  string,  I  lift  my  eyes,  and 
lo  !  the  very  term  I  want.  At  any  rate,  I  go  no  further — I  tire 
in  the  search.  I  take  what  some  invisible  kind  spirit  has  put  be- 
fore me.  Besides,* who  shall  say  there  is  not  affinity  enough  be- 
tween (at  least  the  bundle  of  sticks  that  produced)  many  of  these 
pieces,  or  granulations,  and  those  blue  berries?  their  uselessness 
growing  wild — a  certain  aroma  of  Nature  I  would  so  like  to  have 
in  my  pages — the  thin  soil  whence  they  come — their  content  in 
being  let  alone — their  stolid  and  deaf  repugnance  to  answering 
questions,  (this  latter  the  nearest,  dearest  trait  affinity  of  all.) 

Then  reader  dear,  in  conclusion,  as  to  the  point  of  the  name 
for  the  present  collection,  let  us  be  satisfied  to  have  a  name — 
something  to  identify  and  bind  it  together,  to  concrete  all  its 
vegetable,  mineral,  personal  memoranda,  abrupt  raids  of  criti- 
cism, crude  gossip  of  philosophy,  varied  sands  and  clumps — 
without  bothering  ourselves  because  certain  pages  do  not  present 
themselves  to  you  or  me  as  coming  under  their  own  name  with 
entire  fitness  or  amiability.  (It  is  a  profound,  vexatious,  never- 
explicable  matter — this  of  names.  I  have  been  exercised  deeply 
about  it  my  whole  life.*) 

After  all  of  which  the  name  "  Cedar-Plums  Like  "  got  its  nose 
put  out  of  joint ;  but  I  cannot  afford  to  throw  away  what  I  pen- 

*  In  the  pocket  of  my  receptacle-book  I  find  a  list  of  suggested  and  re- 
jected names  for  this  volume,  or  parts  of  it — such  as  the  following: 
As  the  wild  bee  hums  in  May, 
dr3  August  mulleins  grow, 
&°  Winter  snow-flakes  fall, 
<5j°  stars  in  the  sky  roll  round. 

Away  from  Books — away  from  Art, 

Now  for  the  Day  and  Night — the  lesson  done. 

Now  for  the  Sun  and  Stars. 

Notes  of  a  half  Paralytic ;  As  Voices  in  the  Dusk,  from  Speak- 
Week  in  ana  Week  out,  ers  far  or  hid, 

Embers  of  Ending  Days,  Autochthons Embryons, 

Ducks  and  Drakes,  Wing-and-  Wing, 

Flood  Tide  and  Ebb,  Notes  and  Recalles, 

Gossip  at  Early  Candle-light,  Only  Mulleins  and  Bumble-Bees, 

Echoes  and  Escapades,  Pond-Babble Tite-a-  Tetes, 

Such  as  I... ..Evening  Dews,  Echoes  of  a  Life  in  the  loth  Century 
Notes  after  Writing  a  Book,  in  the  New  World, 

Far  and  Near  at  6j,  Flanges  of  Fifty  Years, 

Drifts  and  Cumulus,  Abandons Hurry  Notes, 

Maize-Tassels Kindlings,  A  Life-Mosaic Native  Moments, 

Fore  and  Aft Vestibules,  Types  and  Semi-  Tones, 

Scintilla  at  60  and  after,  Oddments Sand- Drifts, 

Sands  on  the  Shores  of  64,  Again  and  Again. 


1 68  SPECIMEN  DA  YS. 

cill'd  down  the  lane  there,  under  the  shelter  of  my  old  friend, 
one  warm  October  noon.  Besides,  it  wouldn't  be  civil  to  the 
rpn2.r  tree 

DEATH  OF  THOMAS  CARLYLE. 

Feb.  10,  '<?/. — And  so  the  flame  of  the  lamp,  after  long  wast- 
ing and  flickering,  has  gone  out  entirely. 

As  a  representative  author,  a  literary  figure,  no  man  else  will 
bequeath  to  the  future  more  significant  hints  of  our  stormy  era,  its 
fierce  paradoxes,  its  din,  and  its  struggling  parturition  periods, 
than  Carlyle.  He  belongs  to  our  own  branch  of  the  stock  too  ; 
neither  Latin  nor  Greek,  but  altogether  Gothic.  Rugged,  moun- 
tainous, volcanic,  he  was  himself  more  a  French  revolution  than 
any  of  his  volumes.  In  some  respects,  so  far  in  the  Nineteenth 
century,  the  best  equipt,  keenest  mind,  even  from  the  college 
point  of  view,  of  all  Britain;  only  he  had  an  ailing  body.  Dys- 
pepsia is  to  be  traced  in  every  page,  and  now  and  then  fills  the 
page.  One  may  include  among  the  lessons  of  his  life — even 
though  that  life  stretch'd  to  amazing  length — how  behind  the 
tally  of  genius  and  morals  stands  the  stomach,  and  gives  a  sort 
of  casting  vote. 

Two  conflicting  agonistic  elements  seem  to  have  contended  in 
the  man,  sometimes  pulling  him  different  ways  like  wild  horses. 
He  was  a  cautious,  conservative  Scotchman,  fully  aware  what  a 
foetid  gas-bag  much  of  modern  radicalism  is;  but  then  his  great 
heart  demanded  reform,  demanded  change — often  terribly  at  odds 
with  his  scornful  brain.  No  author  ever  put  so  much  wailing 
and  despair  into  his  books,  sometimes  palpable,  oftener  latent. 
He  reminds  me  of  that  passage  in  Young's  poems  where  as  death 
presses  closer  and  closer  for  his  prey,  the  soul  rushes  hither  and 
thither,  appealing,  shrieking,  berating,  to  escape  the  general  doom. 

Of  short-comings,  even  positive  blur-spots,  from  an  American 
point  of  view,  he  had  serious  share. 

Not  for  his  merely  literary  merit,  (though  that  was  great) — 
not  as  "  maker  of  books,"  but  as  launching  into  the  self-compla- 
cent atmosphere  of  our  days  a  rasping,  questioning,  dislocating 
agitation  and  shock,  is  Carlyle's  final  value.  It  is  time  the 
English-speaking  peoples  had  some  true  idea  about  the  verteber 
of  genius,  namely  power.  As  if  they  must  always  have  it  cut 
and  bias'd  to  the  fashion,  like  a  lady's  cloak  !  What  a  needed 
service  he  performs !  How  he  shakes  our  comfortable  reading 
circles  with  a  touch  of  the  old  Hebraic  anger  and  prophecy — and 
indeed  it  is  just  the  same.  Not  Isaiah  himself  more  scornful, 
more  threatening :  "  The  crown  of  pride,  the  drunkards  of  Eph- 
raim,  shall  be  trodden  under  feet :  And  the  glorious  beauty  which 
is  on  the  head  of  the  fat  valley  shall  be  a  fading  flower."     (The 


SPECIMEN  DA  YS.  ! 69 

word  prophecy  is  much  misused ;  it  seems  narrow'd  to  prediction 
merely.  That  is  not  the  main  sense  of  the  Hebrew  word  trans- 
lated "  prophet ;"  it  means  one  whose  mind  bubbles  up  and  pours 
forth  as  a  fountain,  from  inner,  divine  spontaneities  revealing  God. 
Prediction  is  a  very  minor  part  of  prophecy.  The  great  matter 
is  to  reveal  and  outpour  the  God-like  suggestions  pressing  for 
birth  in  the  soul.  This  is  briefly  the  doctrine  of  the  Friends  or 
Quakers.) 

Then  the  simplicity  and  amid  ostensible  frailty  the  towering 
strength  of  this  man — a  hardy  oak  knot,  you  could  never  wear 
out — an  old  farmer  dress'd  in  brown  clothes,  and  not  handsome 
— his  very  foibles  fascinating.  Who  cares  that  he  wrote  about 
Dr.  Francia,  and  "Shooting  Niagara" — and  "the  Nigger  Ques- 
tion,"— and  didn't  at  all  admire  our  United  States?  (I  doubt 
if  he  ever  thought  or  said  half  as  bad  words  about  us  as  we  de- 
serve.) How  he  splashes  like  leviathan  in  the  seas  of  modern 
literature  and  politics!  Doubtless,  respecting  the  latter,  one 
needs  first  to  realize,  from  actual  observation,  the  squalor,  vice 
and  doggedness  ingrain'd  in  the  bulk-population  of  the  British 
Islands,,  with  the  red  tape,  the  fatuity,  the  nunkeyisrn  everywhere, 
to  understand  the  last  meaning  in  his  pages.  Accordingly,  though 
he  was  no  chartist  or  radical,  I  consider  Carlyle's  by  far  the  most 
indignant  comment  or  protest  anent  the  fruits  of  feudalism  to- 
day in  Great  Britain — the  increasing  poverty  and  degradation  of 
the  homeless,  landless  twenty  millions,  while  a  few  thousands,  or 
rather  a  few  hundreds,  possess  the  entire  soil,  the  money,  and  the 
fat  berths.  Trade  and  shipping,  and  clubs  and  culture,  and  pres- 
tige, and  guns,  and  a  fine  select  class  of  gentry  and  aristocracy, 
with  every  modern  improvement,  cannot  begin  to  salve  or  de- 
fend such  stupendous  hoggishness. 

The  way  to  test  how  much  he  has  left  his  country  were  to  con- 
sider, or  try  to  consider,  for  a  moment,  the  array  of  British 
thought,  the  resultant  ensemble  of  the  last  fifty  years,  as  existing 
to-day,  but  with  Carlyle  left  out.  It  would  be  like  an  army  with 
no  artillery.  The  show  were  still  a  gay  and  rich  one — Byron, 
Scott,  Tennyson,  and  many  more — horsemen  and  rapid  infantry, 
and  banners  flying — but  the  last  heavy  roar  so  dear  to  the  ear  of 
the  train'd  soldier,  and  that  settles  fate  and  victory,  would  be 
lacking. 

For  the  last  three  years  we  in  America  have  had  transmitted 
glimpses  of  a  thin-bodied,  lonesome,  wifeless,  childless,  very  old 
man,  lying  on  a  sofa,  kept  out  of  bed  by  indomitable  will,  but, 
of  late,  never  well  enough  to  take  the  open  air.  I  have  noted 
this  news  from  time  to  time  in  brief  descriptions  in  the  papers. 
A  week  ago  I  read  such  an  item  just  before  I  started  out  for  my 

J5 


170 


SPECIMEN  DA  VS. 


customary  evening  stroll  between  eight  and  nine.  In  the  fine 
cold  night,  unusually  clear,  (Feb.  5,  '8i,)  as  I  walk'd  some  open 
grounds  adjacent,  the  condition  of  Carlyle,  and  his  approaching 
— perhaps  even  then  actual — death,  filled  me  with  thoughts 
eluding  statement,  and  curiously  blending  with  the  scene.  The 
planet  Venus,  an  hour  high  in  the  west,  with  all  her  volume 
and  lustre  recover' d,  (she  has  been  shorn  and  languid  for  nearly 
a  year,)  including  an  additional  sentiment  I  never  noticed  before 
— not  merely  voluptuous,  Paphian,  steeping,  fascinating — now 
with  calm  commanding  seriousness  and  hauteur — the  Milo  Ve- 
nus now.  Upward  to  the  zenith,  Jupiter,  Saturn,  and  the  moon 
past  her  quarter,  trailing  in  procession,  with  the  Pleiades  follow- 
ing, and  the  constellation  Taurus,  and  red  Aldebaran.  Not  a 
cloud  in  heaven.  Orion  strode  through  the  southeast,  with  his 
glittering  belt — and  a  trifle  below  hung  the  sun  of  the  night, 
Sirius.  Every  star  dilated,  more  vitreous,  nearer  than  usual.  Not 
as  in  some  clear  nights  when  the  larger  stars  entirely  outshine 
the  rest.  Every  little  star  or  cluster  just  as  distinctly  visible,  and 
just  as  nigh.  Berenice's  hair  showing  every  gem,  and  new  ones. 
To  the  northeast  and  north  the  Sickle,  the  Goat  and  kids,  Cas- 
siopea,  Castor  and  Pollux,  and  the  two  Dippers.  While  through 
the  whole  of  this  silent  indescribable  show,  inclosing  and  bath- 
ing my  whole  receptivity,  ran  the  thought  of  Carlyle  dying.  (To 
soothe  and  spiritualize,  and,  as  far  as  may  be,  solve  the  mysteries 
of  death  and  genius,  consider  them  under  the' stars  at  midnight.) 
And  now  that  he  has  gone  hence,  can  it  be  that  Thomas  Car- 
lyle, soon  to  chemically  dissolve  in  ashes  and  by  winds,  remains 
an  identity  still  ?  In  ways  perhaps  eluding  all  the  statements, 
lore  and  speculations  of  ten  thousand  years — eluding  all  possible 
statements  to  mortal  sense — does  he  yet  exist,  a  definite,  vital 
being,  a  spirit,  an  individual — perhaps  now  wafted  in  space  among 
those  stellar  systems,  which,  suggestive  and  limitless  as  they  are, 
merely  edge  more  limitless,  far  more  suggestive  systems  ?  I  have 
no  doubt  of  it.  In  silence,  of  a  fine  night,  such  questions  are  an- 
swer'd  to  the  soul,  the  best  answers  that  can  be  given.  With  me, 
too,  when  depress'd  by  some  specially  sad  event,  or  tearing  prob- 
lem, I  wait  till  I  go  out  under  the  stars  for  the  last  voiceless  sat- 
isfaction. 

Later  Thoughts  and  "Jottings. 

CARLYLE  FROM  AMERICAN  POINTS  OF  VIEW. 

There  is  surely  at  present  an  inexplicable  rapport  (all  the  more 

piquant  from  its  contradictoriness)  between  that  deceas'd  author 

and  our  United  States  of  America — no  matter  whether  it  lasts  or 

not.*   As  we  Westerners  assume  definite  shape,  and  result  in  for- 

*  It  will  be   difficult  for  the  future — judging  by  his  books,  personal  dis- 
sympathies,  &c, — to  account  for  the  deep  hold  this  author  has  taken  on  the 


SPE  CI  MEN  DA  VS.  1 7 1 

mations  and  fruitage  unknown  before,  it  is  curious  with  what  a 
new  sense  our  eyes  turn  to  representative  outgrowths  of  crises 
and  personages  in  the  Old  World.  Beyond  question,  since  Car- 
lyle's  death,  and  the  publication  of  Froude's  memoirs,  not  only 
the  interest  in  his  books,  but  every  personal  bit  regarding  the 
famous  Scotchman — his  dyspepsia,  his  buffetings,  his  parentage, 
his  paragon  of  a  wife,  his  career  in  Edinburgh,  in  the  lonesome 
nest  on  Craigenputtock  moor,  and  then  so  many  years  in  London 
— is  probably  wider  and  livelier  to-day  in  this  country  than  in 
his  own  land.  Whether  I  succeed  or  no,  I,  too,  reaching  across 
the  Atlantic  and  taking  the  man's  dark  fortune-telling  of  hu- 
manity and  politics,  would  offset  it  all,  (such  is  the  fancy  that 
comes  to  me,)  by  a  far  more  profound  horoscope-casting  of  those 
themes— G.  F.  Hegel's  * 

First,  about  a  chance,  a  never- fulfil Pd  vacuity  of  this  pale  cast 
of  thought — this  British  Hamlet  from  Cheyne  row,  more  puz- 
zling than  the  Danish  one,  with  his  contrivances  for  settling  the 
broken  and  spavin'd  joints  of  the  world's  government,  especially 
its  democratic  dislocation.  Carlyle's  grim  fate  was  cast  to  live 
and  dwell  in,  and  largely  embody,  the  parturition  agony  and 
qualms  of  the  old  order,  amid  crowded  accumulations  of  ghastly 
morbidity,  giving  birth  to  the  new.  But  conceive  of  him  (or 
his  parents  before  him)  coming  to  America,  recuperated  by  the 
cheering  realities  and  activity  of  our  people  and  country — grow- 
ing up  and  delving  face-to-face  resolutely  among  us  here,  espe- 
cially at  the  West — inhaling  and  exhaling  our  limitless  air  and  eli- 
gibilities— devoting  his  mind  to  the  theories  and  developments 
of  this  Republic  amid  its  practical  facts  as  exemplified  in  Kan- 
sas, Missouri,  Illinois,  Tennessee,  or  Louisiana.     I  say  facts,  and 

present  age,  and  the  way  he  has  color'd  its  method  and  thought.  I  am  cer- 
tainly at  a  loss  to  account  for  it  all  as  affecting  myself.  But  there  could  be 
no  view,  or  even  partial  picture,  of  the  middle  and  latter  part  of  our  Nine- 
teenth century,  that  did  not  markedly  include  Thomas  Carlyle.  In  his  case 
(as  so  many  others,  literary  productions,  works  of  art,  personal  identities, 
events,)  there  has  been  an  impalpable  something  more  effective  than  the  pal- 
pable. Then  I  find  no  better  text,  (it  is  always  important  to  have  a  definite, 
special,  even  oppositional,  living  man  to  start  from,)  for  sending  out  certain 
speculations  and  comparisons  for  home  use.  Let  us  see  what  they  amount  to 
— those  reactionary  doctrines,  fears,  scornful  analyses  of  democracy — even 
from  the  most  erudite  and  sincere  mind  of  Europe. 

*  Not  the  least  mentionable  part  of  the  case,  (a  streak,  it  may  be,  of  that 
humor  with  which  history  and  fate  love  to  contrast  their  gravity,)  is  that  al- 
though neither  of  my  great  authorities  during  their  lives  consider'd  the  United 
States  worthy  of  serious  mention,  all  the  principal  works  of  both  might  not 
inappropriately  be  this  day  collected  and  bound  up  under  the  conspicuous 
title  :  "  Speculations  for  the  tise  of  North  America,  and  Democracy  there,  with 
the  relations  of  the  same  to  Metaphysics,  including  Lessons  and  Warnings 
(encouragemetits  too,  and  of  the  vastest,)  from  the  Old  World  to  the  New" 


172 


SPECIMEN  DA  YS. 


face-to-face  confrontings — so  different  from  books,  and  all  those 
quiddities  and  mere  reports  in  the  libraries,  upon  which  the  man 
(it  was  wittily  said  of  him  at  the  age  of  thirty,  that  there  was 
no  one  in  Scotland  who  had  glean'd  so  much  and  seen  so  little,) 
almost  wholly  fed,  and  which  even  his  sturdy  and  vital  mind  but 
reflected  at  best. 

Something  of  the  sort  narrowly  escaped  happening.  In  1835, 
after  more  than  a  dozen  years  of  trial  and  non -success,  the  author 
of  "  SaTtor  Resartus"  removing  to  London,  very  poor,  a  con- 
firmed hypochondriac,  "Sartor"  universally  scoffed  at,  no  lite- 
rary prospects  ahead,  deliberately  settled  on  one  last  casting- 
throw  of  the  literary  dice — resolv'd  to  compose  and  launch  forth 
a  book  on  the  subject  of  the  French  Revolution — and  if  that  won 
no  higher  guerdon  or  prize  than  hitherto,  to  sternly  abandon  the 
trade  of  author  forever,  and  emigrate  for  good  to  America.  But 
the  venture  turn'd  out  a  lucky  one,  and  there  was  no  emigration. 

Carlyle's  work  in  the  sphere  of  literature  as  he  commenced 
and  carried  it  out,  is  the  same  in  one  or  two  leading  respects  that 
Immanuel  Kant's  was  in  speculative  philosophy.  But  the  Scotch- 
man had  none  of  the  stomachic  phlegm  and  never- perturb'd  pla- 
cidity of  the  Konigsberg  sage,  and  did  not,  like  the  latter,  under- 
stand his  own  limits,  and  stop  when  he  got  to  the  end  of.  them. 
He  clears  away  jungle  and  poison-vines  and  underbrush — at  any 
rate  hacks  valiantly  at  them,  smiting  hip  and  thigh.  Kant  did 
the  like  in  his  sphere,  and  it  was  all  he  profess'd  to  do  ;  his  labors 
have  left  the  ground  fully  prepared  ever  since — and  greater  ser- 
vice was  probably  never  perform'd  by  mortal  man.  But  the  pang 
and  hiatus  of  Carlyle  seem  to  me  to  consist  in  the  evidence 
everywhere  that  amid  a  whirl  of  fog  and  fury  and  cross-purposes, 
he  firmly  believ'd  he  had  a  clue  to  the  medication  of  the  world's 
ills,  and  that  his  bounden  mission  was  to  exploit  it.* 

There  were  two  anchors,  or  sheet-anchors,  for  steadying,  as  a 
last  resort,  the  Carlylean  ship.  One  will  be  specified  presently. 
The  other,  perhaps  the  main,  was  only  to  be  found  in  some 
mark'd  form  of  personal  force,  an  extreme  degree  of  competent 
urge  and  will,  a  man  or  men  "born  to  command."  Probably 
there  ran  through  every  vein  and  current  of  the  Scotchman's 
blood  something  that  warm'd  up  to  this  kind  of  trait  and  char- 
acter above  aught  else  in  the  world,  and  which  makes  him  in  my 

*  I  hope  I  shall  not  myself  fall  into  the  error  I  charge  upon  him,  of  pre- 
scribing a  specific  for  indispensable  evils.  My  utmost  pretension  is  probably 
but  to  offset  that  old  claim  of  the  exclusively  curative  power  of  first-class  in- 
dividual men,  as  leaders  and  rulers,  by  the  claims,  and  general  movement  and 
result,  of  ideas.  Something  of  the  latter  kind  seems  to  me  the  distinctive 
theory  of  America,  of  democracy,  and  of  the  modern — or  rather,  I  should 
say,  it  is  democracy,  and  is  the  modern. 


SPECIMEN  DA  VS. 


1 73 


opinion  the  chief  celebrater  and  promulger  of  it  in  literature — 
more  than  Plutarch,  more  than  Shakspere.  The  great  masses  of 
humanity  stand  for  nothing — at  least  nothing  but  nebulous  raw 
material ;  only  the  big  planets  and  shining  suns  for  him.  To 
ideas  almost  invariably  languid  or  cold,  a  number-one  forceful 
personality  was  sure  to  rouse  his  eulogistic  passion  and  savage 
joy.  In  such  case,  even  the  standard  of  duty  hereinafter  rais'd, 
was  to  be  instantly  lower'd  and  vail'd.  All  that  is  compre- 
hended under  the  terms  republicanism  and  democracy  were  dis- 
tasteful to  him  from  the  first,  and  as  he  grew  older  they  became 
hateful  and  contemptible.  For  an  undoubtedly  candid  and  pen- 
etrating faculty  such  as  his,  the  bearings  he  persistently  ignored 
were  marvellous.  For  instance,  the  promise,  nay  certainty  of 
the  democratic  principle,  to  each  and  every  State  of  the  current 
world,  not  so  much  of  helping  it  to  perfect  legislators  and  execu- 
tives, but  as  the  only  effectual  method  for  surely,  however  slowly, 
training  people  on  a  large  scale  toward  voluntarily  ruling  and 
managing  themselves  (the  ultimate  aim  of  political  and  all  other 
development) — to  gradually  reduce  the  fact  of  governing  to  its 
minimum,  and  to  subject  all  its  staffs  and  their  doings  to  the  tele- 
scopes and  microscopes  of  committees  and  parties — and  greatest 
of  all,  to  afford  (not  stagnation  and  obedient  content,  which  went 
well  enough  with  the  feudalism  and  ecclesiasticism  of  the  antique 
and  medieval  world,  but)  a  vast  and  sane  and  recurrent  ebb  and 
tide  action  for  those  floods  of  the  great  deep  that  have  hence- 
forth palpably  burst  forever  their  old  bounds — seem  never  to 
have  enter'd  Carlyle's  thought.  It  was  splendid  how  he  refus'd 
any  compromise  to  the  last.  He  was  curiously  antique.  In  that 
harsh,  picturesque,  most  potent  voice  and  figure,  one  seems 
to  be  carried  back  from  the  present  of  the  British  islands  more 
than  two  thousand  years,  to  the  range  between  Jerusalem  and 
Tarsus.     His  fullest  best  biographer  justly  says  of  him : 

''  He  was  a  teacher  and  a  prophet,  in  the  Jewish  sense  of  the  word.  The 
prophecies  of  Isaiah  and  Jeremiah  have  become  a  part  of  the  permanent  spir- 
itual inheritance  of  mankind,  because  events  proved  that  they  had  interpreted 
correctly  the  signs  of  their  own  times,  and  their  prophecies  were  fulfill' d. 
Carlyle,  like  them,  believ'd  that  he  had  a  special  message  to  deliver  to  the 
present  age.  Whether  he  was  correct  in  that  belief,  and  whether  his  message 
was  a  true  message,  remains  to  be  seen.  He  has  told  us  that  our  most  cher- 
ish'd  ideas  of  political  liberty,  with  their  kindred  corollaries,  are  mere  illu- 
sions, and  that  the  progress  which  has  seem'd  to  go  along  with  them  is  a 
progress  towards  anarchy  and  social  dissolution.  If  he  was  wrong,  he  has 
misused  his  powers.  The  principles  of  his  teachings  are  false.  He  has  offer'd 
himself  as  a  guide  upon  a  road  of  which  he  had  no  knowledge ;  and  his  own 
desire  for  himself  would  be  the  speediest  oblivion  both  of  his  person  and  his 
works.  If,  on  the  other  hand,  he  has  been  right;  if,  like  his  great  prede- 
cessors, he  has  read  truly  the  tendencies  of  this  modern  age  of  ours,  and  his 


174 


SPECIMEN  DA  VS. 


teaching  is  authenticated  by  facts,  then  Carlyle,  too,  will  take  his  place  among 
the  inspired  seers." 

To  which  I  add  an  amendment  that  under  no  circumstances, 
and  no  matter  how  completely  time  and  events  disprove  his  lurid 
vaticinations,  should  the  English-speaking  world  forget  this  man, 
nor  fail  to  hold  in  honor  his  unsurpass'd  conscience,  his  unique 
method,  and  his  honest  fame.  Never  were  convictions  more 
earnest  and  genuine.  Never  was  there  less  of  a  flunkey  or  tem- 
porizer. Never  had  political  progressivism  a  foe  it  could  more 
heartily  respect. 

The  second  main  point  of  Carlyle's  utterance  was  the  idea  of 
duty  being  done.  (It  is  simply  a  new  codicil — if  it  be  particularly 
new,  which  is  by  no  means  certain — on  the  time-honor' d  bequest 
of  dynasticism,  the  mould-eaten  rules  of  legitimacy  and  kings.) 
He  seems  to  have  been  impatient  sometimes  to  madness  when 
reminded  by  persons  who  thought  at  least  as  deeply  as  himself, 
that  this  formula,  though  precious,  is  rather  a  vague  one,  and  that 
there  are  many  other  considerations  to  a  philosophical  estimate 
of  each  and  every  department  either  in  general  history  or  indi- 
vidual affairs. 

Altogether,  I  don't  know  anything  more  amazing  than  these 
persistent  strides  and  throbbings  so  far  through  our  Nineteenth 
century,  of  perhaps  its  biggest,  sharpest,  and  most  erudite  brain, 
in  defiance  and  discontent  with  everything ;  contemptuously 
ignoring,  (either  from  constitutional  inaptitude,  ignorance  itself, 
or  more  likely  because  he  demanded  a  definite  cure-all  here  and 
now,)  the  only  solace  and  solvent  to  be  had. 

There  is,  apart  from  mere  intellect,  in  the  make-up  of  every 
superior  human  identity,  (in  its  moral  completeness,  considered 
as  ensemble,  not  for  that  moral  alone,  but  for  the  whole  being,  in- 
cluding physique,)  a  wondrous  something  that  realizes  without 
argument,  frequently  without  what  is  called  education,  (though 
I  think  it  the  goal  and  apex  of  all  education  deserving  the  name) — 
an  intuition  of  the  absolute  balance,  in  time  and  space,  of  the 
whole  of  this  multifarious,  mad  chaos  of  fraud,  frivolity,  hoggish- 
ness — this  revel  of  fools,  and  incredible  make-believe  and  general 
unsettledness,  we  call  the  world;  a  soul-sight  of  that  divine  clue 
and  unseen  thread  which  holds  the  whole  congeries  of  things,  all 
history  and  time,  and  all  events,  however  trivial,  however  mo- 
mentous, like  a  leash' d  dog  in  the  hand  of  the  hunter.  Such 
soul-sight  and  root-centre  for  the  mind — mere  optimism  explains 
only  the  surface  or  fringe  of  it — Carlyle  was  mostly,  perhaps  en- 
tirely without.  He  seems  instead  to  have  been  haunted  in  the 
play  of  his  mental  action  by  a  spectre,  never  entirely  laid  from 
first  to  last,  (Greek  scholars,  I  believe,  find  the  same  mocking  and 


SPECIMEN  DA  YS. 


175 


fantastic  apparition  attending  Aristophanes,  his  comedies,) — the 
spectre  of  world-destruction. 

How  largest  triumph  or  failure  in  human  life,  in  war  or  peace, 
may  depend  on  some  little  hidden  centrality,  hardly  more  than 
a  drop  of  blood,  a  pulse-beat,  or  a  breath  of  air  !  It  is  certain 
that  all  these  weighty  matters,  democracy  in  America,  Carlyle- 
ism,  and  the  temperament  for  deepest  political  or  literary  explo- 
ration, turn  on  a  simple  point  in  speculative  philosophy. 

The  most  profound  theme  that  can  occupy  the  mind  of  man — 
the  problem  on  whose  solution  science,  art,  the  bases  and  pur- 
suits of  nations,  and  everything  else,  including  intelligent  human 
happiness,  (here  to-day,  1882,  New  York,  Texas,  California,  the 
same  as  all  times,  all  lands,)  subtly  and  finally  resting,  depends 
for  competent  outset  and  argument,  is  doubtless  involved  in  the 
query :  What  is  the  fusing  explanation  and  tie — what  the  rela- 
tion between  the  (radical,  democratic)  Me,  the  human  identity 
of  understanding,  emotions,  spirit,  &c,  on  the  one  side,  of  and 
with  the  (conservative)  Not  Me,  the  whole  of  the  material  ob- 
jective universe  and  laws,  with  what  is  behind  them  in  time  and 
space,  on  the  other  side?  Immanuel  Kant,  though  he  explain'd, 
or  partially  explain'd,  as  may  be  said,  the  laws  of  the  human 
understanding,  left  this  question  an  open  one.  Schelling's  an- 
swer, or  suggestion  of  answer,  is  (and  very  valuable  and  impor- 
tant, as  far  as  it  goes,)  that  the  same  general  and  particular  intelli- 
gence, passion,  even  the  standards  of  right  and  wrong,  which  exist 
in  a  conscious  and  formulated  state  in  man,  exist  in  an  uncon- 
scious state,  or  in  perceptible  analogies,  throughout  the  entire 
universe  of  external  Nature,  in  all  its  objects  large  or  small,  and 
all  its  movements  and  processes — thus  making  the  impalpable 
human  mind,  and  concrete  Nature,  notwithstanding  their  duality 
and  separation,  convertible,  and  in  centrality  and  essence  one. 
But  G.  F.  Hegel's  fuller  statement  of  the  matter  probably  remains 
the  last  best  word  that  has  been  said  upon  it,  up  to  date.  Sub- 
stantially adopting  the  scheme  just  epitomized,  he  so  carries  it 
out  and  fortifies  it  and  merges  everything  in  it,  with  certain 
serious  gaps  now  for  the  first  time  fill'd,  that  it  becomes  a  cohe- 
rent metaphysical  system,  and  substantial  answer  (as  far  as  there 
can  be  any  answer)  to  the  foregoing  question— -a  system  which, 
while  I  distinctly  admit  that  the  brain  of  the  future  may  add  to, 
revise,  and  even  entirely  reconstruct  it,  any  rate  beams  forth 
to-day,  in  its  entirety,  illuminating  the  thought  of  the  universe, 
and  satisfying  the  mystery  thereof  to  the  human  mind,  with  a 
more  consoling  scientific  assurance  than  any  yet. 

According  to  Hegel  the  whole  earth,  (an  old  nucleus-thought, 
as  in  the  Vedas,  and  no  doubt  before,  but  never  hitherto  brought 


1 76  SPECIMEN  DA  VS. 

so  absolutely  to  the  front,  fully  surcharged  with  modern  scientism 
and  facts,  and  made  the  sole  entrance  to  each  and  all,)  with  its 
infinite  variety,  the  past,  the  surroundings  of  today,  or  what 
may  happen  in  the  future,  the  contrarieties  of  material  with  spir- 
itual, and  of  natural  with  artificial,  are  all,  to  the  eye  of  the  en- 
semblist,  but  necessary  sides  and  unfoldings,  different  steps  or 
links,  in  the  endless  process  of  Creative  thought,  which,  amid 
numberless  apparent  failures  and  contradictions,  is  held  together 
by  central  and  never-broken  unity — not  contradictions  or  failures 
at  all,  but  radiations  of  one  consistent  and  eternal  purpose ;  the 
whole  mass  of  everything  steadily,  unerringly  tending  and  flow- 
ing toward  the  permanent  utile  and  morale,  as  rivers  to  oceans. 
As  life  is  the  whole  law  and  incessant  effort  of  the  visible  uni- 
verse, and  death  only  the  other  or  invisible  side  of  the  same,  so 
the  utile,  so  truth,  so  health,  are  the  unseen  but  immutable  laws 
of  the  moral  universe,  and  vice  and  disease,  with  all  their  pertur- 
bations, are  but  transient,  even  if  ever  so  prevalent  expressions. 

To  politics  throughout,  Hegel  applies  the  like  catholic  standard 
and  faith.  Not  any  one  party,  or  any  one  form  of  government, 
is  absolutely  and  exclusively  true.  Truth  consists  in  the  just  re- 
lations of  objects  to  each  other.  A  majority  or  democracy 
may  rule  as  outrageously  and  do  as  great  harm  as  an  oligarchy  or 
despotism — though  far  less  likely  to  do  so.  But  the  great  evil  is 
either  a  violation  of  the  relations  just  referr'd  to,  or  of  the  moral 
law.  The  specious,  the  unjust,  the  cruel,  and  what  is  called  the 
unnatural,  though  not  only  permitted  but  in  a  certain  sense,  (like 
shade  to  light,)  inevitable  in  the  divine  scheme,  are  by  the  whole 
constitution  of  that  scheme,  partial,  inconsistent,  temporary,  and 
though  having  ever  so  great  an  ostensible  majority,  are  certainly 
destin'd  to  failure,  after  causing  great  suffering. 

Theology,  Hegel  translates  into  science.*  All  apparent  con- 
tradictions in  the  statement  of  the  Deific  nature  by  different 
ages,  nations,  churches,  points  of  view,  are  but  fractional  and 
imperfect  expressions  of  one  essential  unity,  from  which  they  all 
proceed — crude  endeavors  or  distorted  parts,  to  be  regarded  both 
as  distinct  and  united.  In  short  (to  put  it  in  our  own  form,  or 
summing  up,)  that  thinker  or  analyzer  or  overlooker  who  by  an 
inscrutable  combination  of  train'd  wisdom  and  natural  intuition 
most  fully  accepts  in  perfect  faith  the  moral  unity  and  sanity 
of  the  creative  scheme,  in  history,  science,  and  all  life  and  time, 
present  and  future,  is  both  the  truest  cosmical  devotee  or  religi- 
oso,  and  the  profoundest  philosopher.  While  he  who,  by  the 
spell  of  himself  and  his  circumstance,  sees  darkness  and  despair 


*  I  am  much  indebted  to  J.  Gostick's  abstract. 


SPECIMEN  DA  VS.  177 

in  the  sum  of  the  workings  of  God's  providence,  and  who,  in 
that,  denies  or  prevaricates,  is,  no  matter  how  much  piety  plays 
on  his  lips,  the  most  radical  sinner  and  infidel. 

I  am  the  more  assured  in  recounting  Hegel  a  little  freely  here,* 
not  only  for  offsetting  the  Carlylean  letter  and  spirit — cutting  it 
out  all  and  several  from  the  very  roots,  and  below  the  roots — but 
to  counterpoise,  since  the  late  death  and  deserv'd  apotheosis  of 
Darwin,  the  tenets  of  the  evolutionists.  Unspeakably  precious 
as  those  are  to  biology,  and  henceforth  indispensable  to  a  right 
aim  and  estimate  in  study,  they  neither  comprise  or  explain  every- 
thing— and  the  last  word  or  whisper  still  remains  to  be  breathed, 
after  the  utmost  of  those  claims,  floating  high  and  forever  above 
them  all,  and  above  technical  metaphysics.  While  the  contribu- 
tions which  German  Kant  and  Fichte  and  Schelling  and  Hegel 
have  bequeath'd  to  humanity — and  which  English  Darwin  has 
also  in  his  field — are  indispensable  to  the  erudition  of  America's 
future,  I  should  say  that  in  all  of  them,  and  the  best  of  them, 
when  compared  with  the  lightning  flashes  and  flights  of  the  old 
prophets  and  exaltte,  the  spiritual  poets  and  poetry  of  all  lands, 
(as  in  the  Hebrew  Bible,)  there  seems  to  be,  nay  certainly  is, 
something  lacking — something  cold,  a  failure  to  satisfy  the  deep- 
est emotions  of  the  soul — a  want  of  living  glow,  fondness, 
warmth,  which  the  old  exaltes  and  poets  supply,  and  which  the 
keenest  modern  philosophers  so  far  do  not. 

Upon  the  whole,  and  for  our  purposes,  this  man's  name  cer- 
tainly belongs  on  the  list  with  the  just-specified,  first-class  moral 
physicians  of  our  current  era — and  with  Emerson  and  two  or 
three  others — though  his  prescription  is  drastic,  and  perhaps  de- 
structive, while  theirs  is  assimilating,  normal  and  tonic.  Feudal 
at  the  core,  and  mental  offspring  and  radiation  of  feudalism  as 
are  his  books,  they  afford  ever-valuable  lessons  and  affinities  to 
democratic  America.  Nations  or  individuals,  we  surely  learn 
deepest  from  unlikeness,  from  a  sincere  opponent,  from  the  light 
thrown  even  scornfully  on  dangerous  spots  and  liabilities.  (Mi- 
chel Angelo  invoked  heaven's  special  protection  against  his  friends 
and  affectionate  flatterers;  palpable  foes  he  could  manage  for 

*  I  have  deliberately  repeated  it  all,  not  only  in  offset  to  Carlyle's  ever- 
lurking  pessimism  and  world-decadence,  but  as  presenting  the  most  thoroughly 
American  points  of  view  I  know.  In  my  opinion  the  above  formulas  of  He- 
gel are  an  essential  and  crowning  justification  of  New  World  democracy  in  the 
creative  realms  of  time  and  space.  There  is  that  about  them  which  only  the 
vastness,  the  multiplicity  and  the  vitality  of  America  would  seem  able  to  com- 
prehend, to  give  scope  and  illustration  to,  or  to  be  fit  for,  or  even  originate. 
It  is  strange  to  me  that  they  were  born  in  Germany,  or  in  the  old  world  at  all. 
While  a  Carlyle,  I  should  say,  is  quite  the  legitimate  European  product  to  be 
expected. 


1 78  SPECIMEN  DA  YS. 

himself.)  In  many  particulars  Carlyle  was  indeed,  as  Froude 
terms  him,  one  of  those  far-off  Hebraic  utterers,  a  new  Micah  or 
Habbakuk.  His  words  at  times  bubble  forth  with  abysmic  inspira- 
tion. Always  precious,  such  men  ;  as  precious  now  as  any  time. 
His  rude,  rasping,  taunting,  contradictory  tones — what  ones  are 
more  wanted  amid  the  supple,  polish'd,  money-worshipping,  Je- 
sus-and-Judas-equalizing,  suffrage-sovereignty  echoes  of  current 
America?  He  has  lit  up  our  Nineteenth  century  with  the  light 
of  a  powerful,  penetrating,  and  perfectly  honest  intellect  of  the 
first-class,  turn'd  on  British  and  European  politics,  social  life, 
literature,  and  representative  personages — thoroughly  dissatisfied 
with  all,  and  mercilessly  exposing  the  illness  of  all.  But  while  he 
announces  the  malady,  and  scolds  and  raves  about  it,  he  himself, 
born  and  bred  in  the  same  atmosphere,  is  a  mark'd  illustration  of  it. 

A  COUPLE  OF  OLD  FRIENDS— A  COLERIDGE  BIT. 

Latter  April. — Have  run  down  in  my  country  haunt  for  a  couple 
of  days,  and  am  spending  them  by  the  pond.  I  had  already  dis- 
cover'd  my  kingfisher  here  (but  only  one — the  mate  not  here 
yet.)  This  fine  bright  morning,  down  by  the  creek,  he  has  come 
out  for  a  spree,  circling,  flirting,  chirping  at  a  round  rate.  While 
I  am  writing  these  lines  he  is  disporting  himself  in  scoots  and 
rings  over  the  wider  parts  of  the  pond,  into  whose  surface  he 
dashes,  once  or  twice  making  a  loud  souse — the  spray  flying  in 
the  sun — beautiful !  I  saw  his  white  and  dark-gray  plumage  and 
peculiar  shape  plainly,  as  he  has  deign'd  to  come  very  near  me. 
The  noble,  graceful  bird  !  Now  he  is  sitting  on  the  limb  of  an 
old  tree,  high  up,  bending  over  the  water — seems  to  be  looking 
at  me  while  I  memorandize.  I  almost  fancy  he  knows  me.  Three 
days  later. — My  second  kingfisher  is  here  with  his  (or  her)  mate. 
I  saw  the  two  together  flying  and  whirling  around.  I  had  heard, 
in  the  distance,  what  I  thought  was  the  clear  rasping  staccato  of 
the  birds  several  times  already — but  I  couldn't  be  sure  the  notes 
came  from  both  until  I  saw  them  together.  To-day  at  noon  they 
appear'd,  but  apparently  either  on  business,  or  for  a  little  limited 
exercise  only.  No  wild  frolic  now,  full  of  free  fun  and  motion,  up 
and  down  for  an  hour.  Doubtless,  now  they  have  cares,  duties,  in- 
cubation responsibilities.  The  frolics  are  deferr'd  till  summer-close. 

I  don't  know  as  I  can  finish  to-day's  memorandum  better  than 
with  Coleridge's  lines,  curiously  appropriate  in  more  ways  than  one : 

"  All  Nature  seems  at  work — slugs  leave  their  lair, 
The  bees  are  stirring — birds  are  on  the  wing, 
And  winter,  slumbering  in  the  open  air, 
"Wears  on  his  smiling  face  a  dream  of  spring; 
And  I,  the  while,  the  sole  unbusy  thing, 
Nor  honey  make,  nor  pair,  nor  build,  nor  sing." 


SPECIMEN  DA  YS. 


A  WEEK'S  VISIT  TO  BOSTON. 


179 


May  1,  '81. — Seems  as  if  all  the  ways  and  means  of  American 
travel  to-day  had  been  settled,  not  only  with  reference  to  speed 
and  directness,  but  for  the  comfort  of  women,  children,  invalids, 
and  old  fellows  like  me.  I  went  on  by  a  through  train  that  runs 
daily  from  Washington  to  the  Yankee  metropolis  without  change. 
You  get  in  a  sleeping-car  soon  after  dark  in  Philadelphia,  and 
after  ruminating  an  hour  or  two,  have  your  bed  made  up  if  you 
like,  draw  the  curtains,  and  go  to  sleep  in  it — fly  on  through  Jer- 
sey to  New  York — hear  in  your  half-slumbers  a  dull  jolting  and 
bumping  sound  or  two — are  unconsciously  toted  from  Jersey  city 
by  a  midnight  steamer  around  the  Battery  and  under  the  big 
bridge  to  the  track  of  the  New  Haven  road — resume  your  flight 
eastward,  and  early  the  next  morning  you  wake  up  in  Boston.  All 
of  which  was  my  experience.  I  wanted  to  go  to  the  Revere  house. 
A  tall  unknown  gentleman,  (a  fellow-passenger  on  his  way  to 
Newport  he  lold  me,  I  had  just  chatted  a  few  moments  before 
with  him,)  assisted  me  out  through  the  depot  crowd,  procured  a 
hack,  put  me  in  it  with  my  traveling  bag,  saying  smilingly  and 
quietly,  "Now  I  want  you  to  let  this  be  my  ride,"  paid  the 
driver,  and  before  I  could  remonstrate  bow'd  himself  off. 

The  occasion  of  my  jaunt,  I  suppose  I  had  better  say  here,  was 
for  a  public  reading  of  "  the  death  of  Abraham  Lincoln  "  essay, 
on  the  sixteenth  anniversary  of  that  tragedy ;  which  reading  duly 
came  off,  night  of  April  15.  Then  I  linger'da  week  in  Boston — 
felt  pretty  well  (the  mood  propitious,  my  paralysis  lull'd) — went 
around  everywhere,  and  saw  all  that  was  to  be  seen,  especially 
human  beings.  Boston's  immense  material  growth — commerce, 
finance,  commission  stores,  the  plethora  of  goods,  the  crowded 
streets  and  sidewalks — made  of  course  the  first  surprising  show. 
In  my  trip  out  West,  last  year,  I  thought  the  wand  of  future  pros- 
perity, future  empire,  must  soon  surely  be  wielded  by  St.  Louis, 
Chicago,  beautiful  Denver,  perhaps  San  Francisco ;  but  I  see  the 
said  wand  stretch'd  out  just  as  decidedly  in  Boston,  with  just  as 
much  certainty  of  staying ;  evidences  of  copious  capital — in- 
deed no  centre  of  the  New  World  ahead  of  it,  (half  the  big  rail- 
roads in  the  West  are  built  with  Yankees'  money,  and  they  take 
the  dividends.)  Old  Boston  with  its  zigzag  streets  and  multitudi- 
nous angles,  (crush  up  a  sheet  of  letter-paper  in  your  hand,  throw 
it  down,  stamp  it  flat,  and  that  is  a  map  of  old  Boston) — new 
Boston  with  its  miles  upon  miles  of  large  and  costly  houses — 
Beacon  street,  Commonwealth  avenue,  and  a  hundred  others.  But 
the  best  new  departures  and  expansions  of  Boston,  and  of  all  the 
cities  of  New  England,  are  in  another  direction. 


1 80  SPECIMEN  DA  YS. 

THE  BOSTON  OF  TO-DAY. 
In  the  letters  we  get  from  Dr.  Schliemann  (interesting  but 
fishy)  about  his  excavations  there  in  the  far-off  Homeric  area,  I 
notice  cities,  ruins,  &c,  as  he  digs  them  out  of  their  graves,  are  cer- 
tain to  be  in  layers — that  is  to  say,  upon  the  foundation  of  an 
old  concern,  very  far  down  indeed,  is  always  another  city  or  set 
of  ruins,  and  upon  that  another  superadded — and  sometimes  upon 
that  still  another — each  representing  either  a  long  or  rapid  stage 
of  growth  and  development,  different  from  its  predecessor,  but 
unerringly  growing  out  of  and  resting  on  it.  In  the  moral,  emo- 
tional, heroic,  and  human  growths,  (the  main  of  a  race  in  my 
opinion,)  something  of  this  kind  has  certainly  taken  place  in 
Boston.  The  New  England  metropolis  of  to-day  may  be  de- 
scribed as  sunny,  (there  is  something  else  that  makes  warmth, 
mastering  even  winds  and  meteorologies,  though  those  are  not  to 
be  sneez'd  at,)  joyous,  receptive,  full  of  ardor,  sparkle,  a  certain 
element  of  yearning,  magnificently  tolerant,  yet  not  to  be  fool' d; 
fond  of  good  eating  and  drinking — costly  in  costume  as  its  purse 
can  buy;  and  all  through  its  best  average  of  houses,  streets, 
people,  that  subtle  something  (generally  thought  to  be  climate, 
but  it  is  not — it  is  something  indefinable  in  the  the  race,  the  turn 
of  its  development)  which  effuses  behind  the  whirl  of  animation, 
study,  business,  a  happy  and  joyous  public  spirit,  as  distinguished 
from  a  sluggish  and  saturnine  one.  Makes  me  think  of  the  glints 
we  get  (as  in  Symonds's  books)  of  the  jolly  old  Greek  cities.  In- 
deed there  is  a  good  deal  of  the  Hellenic  in  B.,  and  the  people 
are  getting  handsomer  too — padded  out,  with  freer  motions,  and 
with  color  in  their  faces.  I  never  saw  (although  this  is  not  Greek) 
so  many  fine-  looking  gray  hair }d  women.  At  my  lecture  I  caught 
myself  pausing  more  than  once  to  look  at  them,  plentiful  every- 
where through  the  audience — healthy  and  wifely  and  motherly, 
and  wonderfully  charming  and  beautiful — I  think  such  as  no  time 
or  land  but  ours  could  show. 

MY  TRIBUTE  TO  FOUR  POETS. 

April  16. — A  short  but  pleasant  visit  to  Longfellow.  I  am  not 
one  of  the  calling  kind,  but  as  the  author  of  "  Evangeline  " 
kindly  took  the  trouble  to  come  and  see  me  three  years  ago  in 
Camden,  where  I  was  ill,  I  felt  not  only  the  impulse  of  my  own 
pleasure  on  that  occasion,  but  a  duty.  He  was  the  only  particular 
eminence  I  called  on  in  Boston,  and  I  shall  not  soon  forget  his 
lit-up  face  and  glowing  warmth  and  courtesy,  in  the  modes  of 
what  is  called  the  old  school. 

And  now  just  here  I  feel  the  impulse  to  interpolate  something 
about  the  mighty  four  who  stamp  this  first  American  century  with 


SPECIMEN  DA  VS.  1g1 

its  birth-marks  of  poetic  literature.  In  a  late  magazine  one  of  my 
reviewers,  who  ought  to  know  better,  speaks  of  my  "  attitude  of 
contempt  and  scorn  and  intolerance* '  toward  the  leading  poets — 
of  my  "deriding"  them,  and  preaching  their  "  uselessness. ' '  If 
anybody  cares  to  know  what  I  think — and  have  long  thought 
and  avow'd — about  them,  I  am  entirely  willing  to  propound. 
I  can't  imagine  any  better  luck  befalling  these  States  for  a 
poetical  beginning  and  initiation  than  has  come  from  Emerson, 
Longfellow,  Bryant,  and  Whittier.  Emerson,  to  me,  stands  un- 
mistakably at  the  head,  but  for  the  others  I  am  at  a  loss  where  to 
give  any  precedence.  Each  illustrious,  each  rounded,  each  dis- 
tinctive. Emerson  for  his  sweet,  vital-tasting  melody,  rhym'd 
philosophy,  and  poems  as  amber-clear  as  the  honey  of  the  wild 
bee  he  loves  to  sing.  Longfellow  for  rich  color,  graceful  forms 
and  incidents — all  that  makes  life  beautiful  and  love  refined — 
competing  with  the  singers  of  Europe  on  their  own  ground,  and, 
with  one  exception,  better  and  finer  work  than  that  of  any  of 
them.  Bryant  pulsing  the  first  interior  verse-throbs  of  a  mighty 
world — bard  of  the  river  and  the  wood,  ever  conveying  a  taste 
of  open  air,  with  scents  as  from  hayfields,  grapes,  birch-bor- 
ders— always  lurkingly  fond  of  threnodies — beginning  and  end- 
ing his  long  career  with  chants  of  death,  with  here  and  there 
through  all,  poems,  or  passages  of  poems,  touching  the  highest 
universal  truths,  enthusiasms,  duties — morals  as  grim  and  eternal, 
if  not  as  stormy  and  fateful,  as  anything  in  Eschylus.  While  in 
Whittier,  with  his  special  themes — (his  outcropping  love  of  hero- 
ism and  war,  for  all  his  Quakerdom,  his  verses  at  times  like  the 
measur'd  step  of  Cromwell's  old  veterans) — in  Whittier  lives 
the  zeal,  the  moral  energy,  that  founded  New  England — the  splen- 
did rectitude  and  ardor  of  Luther,  Milton,  George  Fox — I  must 
not,  dare  not,  say  the  wilfulness  and  narrowness — though  doubt- 
less the  world  needs  now,  and  always  will  need,  almost  above  all, 
just  such  narrowness  and  wilfulness. 

MILLET'S  PICTURES— LAST  ITEMS. 

April  18. — Went  out  three  or  four  miles  to  the  house  of  Quincy 
Shaw,  to  see  a  collection  of  J.  F.  Millet's  pictures.  Two  rapt 
hours.  Never  before  have  I  been  so  penetrated  by  this  kind  of 
expression.  I  stood  long  and  long  before  "  the  Sower."  I  be- 
lieve what  the  picture-men  designate  "the  first  Sower,"  as  the 
artist  executed  a  second  copy,  and  a  third,  and,  some  think,  im- 
proved in  each.  But  I  doubt  it.  There  is  something  in  this 
that  could  hardly  be  caught  again — a  sublime  murkiness  and 
original  pent  fury.  Besides  this  masterpiece,  there  were  many 
others,  (I  shall  never  forget  the  simple  evening  scene,  "Watering 


182  SPECIMEN  DA  YS. 

the  Cow,")  all  inimitable,  all  perfect  as  pictures,  works  of  mere 
art ;  and  then  it  seem'd  to  me,  with  that  last  impalpable  ethic 
purpose  from  the  artist  (most  likely  unconscious  to  himself) 
which  I  am  always  looking  for.  To  me  all  of  them  told  the  full 
story  of  what  went  before  and  necessitated  the  great  French  revo- 
lution— the  long  precedent  crushing  of  the  masses  of  a  heroic 
people  into  the  earth,  in  abject  poverty,  hunger — every  right  de- 
nied, humanity  attempted  to  be  put  back  for  generations — yet 
Nature's  force,  titanic  here,  the  stronger  and  hardier  for  that 
repression — waiting  terribly  to  break  forth,  revengeful — the  pres- 
sure on  the  dykes,  and  the  bursting  at  last — the  storming  of  the 
Bastile — the  execution  of  the  king  and  queen — the  tempest  of 
massacres  and  blood.     Yet  who  can  wonder  ? 

Could  we  wish  humanity  different  ? 

Could  we  wish  the  people  made  of  wood  or  stone  ? 

Or  that  there  be  no  justice  in  destiny  or  time  ? 

The  true  France,  base  of  all  the  rest,  is  certainly  in  these  pic- 
tures. I  comprehend  "  Field-People  Reposing,"  "  the  Diggers," 
and  "  the  Angelus  "  in  this  opinion.  Some  folks  always  think 
of  the  French  as  a  small  race,  five  or  five  and  a  half  feet  high, 
and  ever  frivolous  and  smirking.  Nothing  of  the  sort.  The 
bulk  of  the  personnel  of  France,  before  the  revolution,  was  large- 
sized,  serious,  industrious  as  now,  and  simple.  The  revolution 
and  Napoleon's  wars  dwarf'd  the  standard  of  human  size,  but  it 
will  come  up  again.  If  for  nothing  else,  I  should  dwell  on  my 
brief  Boston  visit  for  opening  to  me  the  new  world  of  Millet's 
pictures.  Will  America  ever  have  such  an  artist  out  of  her  own 
gestation,  body,  soul  ? 

Sunday,  April  i?. — An  hour  and  a  half,  late  this  afternoon,  in 
silence  and  half  light,  in  the  great  nave  of  Memorial  hall,  Cam- 
bridge, the  walls  thickly  cover' d  with  mural  tablets,  bearing  the 
names  of  students  and  graduates  of  the  university  who  fell  in  the 
secession  war. 

April  23. — It  was  well  I  got  away  in  fair  order,  for  if  I  had 
staid  another  week  I  should  have  been  killed  with  kindness,  and 
with  eating  and  drinking. 

BIRDS— AND  A  CAUTION. 
May  14. — Home  again  ;  down  temporarily  in  the  Jersey  woods. 
Between  8  and  9  a.m.  a  full  concert  of  birds,  from  different 
quarters,  in  keeping  with  the  fresh  scent,  the  peace,  the  natural- 
ness all  around  me.  I  am  lately  noticing  the  russet-back,  size  of 
the  robin  or  a  trifle  less,  light  breast  and  shoulders,  with  irregular 
dark  stripes — tail  long — sits  hunch'd  up  by  the  hour  these  days, 
top  of  a  tall  bush,  or  some  tree,  singing  blithely.     I  often  get 


SPECIMEN  DA  YS. 


183 


near  and  listen,  as  he  seems  tame ;  I  like  to  watch  the  working  of 
his  bill  and  throat,  the  quaint  sidle  of  his  body,  and  flex  of  his 
long  tail.  I  hear  the  woodpecker,  and  night  and  early  morning 
the  shuttle  of  the  whip-poor-will — noons,  the  gurgle  of  thrush 
delicious,  and  meo-o-ow  of  the  cat-bird.  Many  I  cannot  name ; 
but  I  do  not  very  particularly  seek  information.  (You  must  not 
know  too  much,  or  be  too  precise  or  scientific  about  birds  and 
trees  and  flowers  and  water-craft ;  a  certain  free  margin,  and  even 
vagueness — perhaps  ignorance,  credulity — helps  your  enjoyment 
of  these  things,  and  of  the  sentiment  of  feather'd,  wooded,  river, 
or  marine  Nature  generally.  I  repeat  it — don't  want  to  know 
too  exactly,  or  the  reasons  why.  My  own  notes  have  been  written 
off-hand  in  the  latitude  of  middle  New  Jersey.  Though  they  de- 
scribe what  I  saw — what  appear'd  to  me — I  dare  say  the  expert 
ornithologist,  botanist  or  entomologist  will  detect  more  than  one 
slip  in  them.) 

SAMPLES  OF  MY  COMMON-PLACE  BOOK. 

I  ought  not  to  offer  a  record  of  these  days,  interests,  recu- 
perations, without  including  a  certain  old,  well-thumb'd  com- 
mon-place book,*  filled  with  favorite  excerpts,  I  carried  in  my 

*  Samples  of  my  common-place  book  doivn  at  the  creek  : 
I  have — says  old  Pindar — many  swift  arrows  in  my  quiver  which  speak  to 
the  wise,  though  they  need  an  interpreter  to  the  thoughtless. 

Such  a  man  as  it  takes  ages  to  make,  and  ages  to  understand. 

H.  D.  Thoreau. 
If  you  hate  a  man,  don't  kill  him,  but  let  him  live. — Buddhistic. 
Famous  swords  are  made  of  refuse  scraps,  thought  worthless. 

Poetry  is  the  only  verity — the  expression  of  a  sound  mind  speaking  after  the 
ideal — and  not  after  the  apparent. — Emerson. 

The  form  of  oath  among  the  Shoshone  Indians  is,  "  The  earth  hears  me. 
The  sun  hears  me.     Shall  I  lie  ?" 

The  true  test  of  civilization  is  not  the  census,  nor  the  size  of  cities,  nor  the 
crops — no,  but  the  kind  of  a  man  the  country  turns  out. — Emerson. 

The  whole  wide  ether  is  the  eagle's  sway : 

The  whole  earth  is  a  brave  man's  fatherland. — Euripides. 

Spices  crush'd,  their  pungence  yield, 

Trodden  scents  their  sweets  respire ; 
Would  you  have  its  strength  reveal'd? 

Cast  the  incense  in  the  fire. 

Matthew  Arnold  speaks  of  "  the  huge  Mississippi  of  falsehood  called  His- 
tory." 

The  wind  blows  north,  the  wind  blows  south, 

The  wind  blows  east  and  west ; 
No  matter  how  the  free  wind  blows, 
Some  ship  will  find  it  best. 


1 84  SPE  CIMEN  DA  YS. 

pocket  for  three  summers,  and  absorb' d  over  and  over  again, 
when  the  mood  invited.     I  find  so  much  in  having  a  poem  or  fine 

Preach  not  to  others  what  they  should  eat,  but  eat  as  becomes  you,  and  be 
silent. — Epictetus. 

Victor  Hugo  makes  a  donkey  meditate  and  apostrophize  thus : 

My  brother,  man,  if  you  would  know  the  truth, 
We  both  are  by  the  same  dull  walls  shut  in; 
The  gate  is  massive  and  the  dungeon  strong. 
But  you  look  through  the  key-hole  out  beyond, 
And  call  this  knowledge ;  yet  have  not  at  hand 
The  key  wherein  to  turn  the  fatal  lock. 

"William  Cullen  Bryant  surprised  me  once,"  relates  a  writer  in  a  New 
York  paper,  "  by  saying  that  prose  was  the  natural  language  of  composition, 
and  he  wonder'd  how  anybody  came  to  write  poetry." 

Farewell !  I  did  not  know  thy  worth ; 

But  thou  art  gone,  and  now  'tis  prized: 
So  angels  walk'd  unknown  on  earth, 

But  when  they  flew  were  recognized. — Hood. 

John  Burroughs,  writing  of  Thoreau,  says :  "  He  improves  with  age — in 
fact  requires  age  to  take  off  a  little  of  his  asperity,  and  fully  ripen  him.  The 
world  likes  a  good  hater  and  refuser  almost  as  well  as  it  likes  a  good  lover 
and  accepter — only  it  likes  him  farther  off." 

Louise  Michel  at  the  burial  of  Blanqui^  (l88r.) 
Blanqui  drill'd  his  body  to  subjection  to  his  grand  conscience  and  his  noble 
passions,  and  commencing  as  a  young  man,  broke  with  all  that  is  sybaritish  in 
modern  civilization.     Without  the   power  to  sacrifice  self,  great  ideas  will 
never  bear  fruit. 

Out  of  the  leaping  furnace  flame 

A  mass  of  molten  silver  came ; 

Then,  beaten  into  pieces  three, 

Went  forth  to  meet  its  destiny. 

The  first  a  crucifix  was  made, 

Within  a  soldier's  knapsack  laid; 

The  second  was  a  locket  fair, 

Where  a  mother  kept  her  dead  child's  hair; 

The  third — a  bangle,  bright  and  warm, 

Around  a  faithless  woman's  arm. 

A  mighty  pain  to  love  it  is, 
And  'tis  a  pain  that  pain  to  miss ; 
But  of  all  pain  the  greatest  pain, 
It  is  to  love,  but  love  in  vain. 

Maurice  F.  Egan  on  De  Gue'rin, 

A  pagan  heart,  a  Christian  soul  had  he, 

He  follow'd  Christ,  yet  for  dead  Pan  he  sigh'd, 
Till  earth  and  heaven  met  within  his  breast: 

As  if  Theocritus  in  Sicily 

Had  come  upon  the  Figure  crucified, 
And  lost  his  gods  in  deep,  Christ-given  rest. 


SPECIMEN  DA  YS. 


1»5 


suggestion  sink  into  me  (a  little  then  goes  a  great  ways)  prepar'd 
by  these  vacant-sane  and  natural  influences. 

MY  NATIVE  SAND  AND  SALT  ONCE  MORE. 

July  25,  ' 'Si. — Far  Rockaway,  L.  1. — A  good  day  here,  on  a 
jaunt,  amid  the  sand  and  salt,  a  steady  breeze  setting  in  from  the 
sea,  the  sun  shining,  the  sedge-odor,  the  noise  of  the  surf,  a  mix- 
ture of  hissing  and  booming,  the  milk-white  crests  curling  over. 
I  had  a  leisurely  bath  and  naked  ramble  as  of  old,  on  the  warm- 
gray  shore-sands,  my  companions  off  in  a  boat  in  deeper  water — 
(I  shouting  to  them  Jupiter's  menaces  against  the  gods,  from 
Pope's  Homer.) 

July  28 — to  Long  Branch. — 8)4  A.  M.,  on  the  steamer  "  Ply- 
mouth Rock,"  foot  of  23d  street,  New  York,  for  Long  Branch. 
Another  fine  day,  fine  sights,  the  shores,  the  snipping  and  bay — 
everything  comforting  to  the  body  and  spirit  of  me.  (I  find  the 
human  and  objective  atmosphere  of  New  York  city  and  Brook- 
lyn more  affiliative  to  me  than  any  other.)  An  hour  later — Still 
on  the  steamer,  now  sniffing  the  salt  very  plainly — the  long  pul- 
sating swash  as  our  boat  steams  seaward — the  hills  of  Navesink 
and  many  passing  vessels — the  air  the  best  part  of  all.     At  Long 

And  if  I  pray,  the  only  prayer 

That  moves  my  lips  for  me, 
Is,  leave  the  mind  that  now  I  bear, 

And  give  me  Liberty. — Emily  Bront?. 

I  travel  on  not  knowing, 

I  would  not  if  I  might ; 
I  would  rather  walk  with  God  in  the  dark, 

Than  go  alone  in  the  light ; 
I  would  rather  walk  with  Him  by  faith 

Than  pick  my  way  by  sight. 

Prof.  Huxley  in  a  late  lecture. 

I  myself  agree  with  the  sentiment  of  Thomas  Hobbes,  of  Malmesbury,  that 
M  the  scope  of  all  speculation  is  the  performance  of  some  action  or  thing  to  be 
done."  I  have  not  any  very  great  respect  for,  or  interest  in,  mere  "  knowing," 
as  such. 

Prince  Metternick. 

Napoleon  was  of  all  men  in  the  world  the  one  who  most  profoundly  de- 
spised the  race.  He  had  a  marvellous  insight  into  the  weaker  sides  of  human 
nature,  (and  all  our  passions  are  either  foibles  themselves,  or  the  cause  of  foi- 
bles.) He  was  a  very  small  man  of  imposing  character.  He  was  ignorant, 
as  a  sub-lieutenant  generally  is :  a  remarkable  instinct  supplied  the  lack  of 
knowledge.  From  his  mean  opinion  of  men,  he  never  had  any  anxiety  lest 
he  should  go  wrong.  He  ventur'd  everything,  and  gain'd  thereby  an  immense 
step  toward  success.  Throwing  himself  upon  a  prodigious  arena,  he  amaz'd 
the  world,  and  made  himself  master  of  it,  while  others  cannot  even  get  so  far 
as  being  masters  of  their  own  hearth.  Then  he  went  on  and  on,  until  he  broke 
his  neck. 

16 


T  86  SPECIMEN  DA  VS. 

Branch  the  bulk  of  the  day,  stopt  at  a  good  hotel,  took  all  very- 
leisurely,  had  an  excellent  dinner,  and  then  drove  for  over  two 
hours  about  the  place,  especially  Ocean  avenue,  the  finest  drive 
one  can  imagine,  seven  or  eight  miles  right  along  the  beach.  In 
all  directions  costly  villas,  palaces,  millionaires — (but  few  among 
them  I  opine  like  my  friend  George  W.  Childs,  whose  personal 
integrity,  generosity,  unaffected  simplicity,  go  beyond  all  worldly 
wealth.) 

HOT  WEATHER  NEW  YORK. 

August. — In  the  big  city  awhile.  Even  the  height  of  the  dog- 
days,  there  is  a  good  deal  of  fun  about  New  York,  if  you  only 
avoid  fluster,  and  take  all  the  buoyant  wholesomeness  that  offers. 
More  comfort,  too,  than  most  folks  think.  A  middle-aged  man, 
with  plenty  of  money  in  his  pocket,  tells  me  that  he  has  been  off 
for  a  month  to  all  the  swell  places,  has  disburs'd  a  small  fortune, 
has  been  hot  and  out  of  kilter  everywhere,  and  has  return'd 
home  and  lived  in  New  York  city  the  last  two  weeks  quite  contented 
and  happy.  People  forget  when  it  is  hot  here,  it  is  generally  hot- 
ter still  in  other  places.  New  York  is  so  situated,  with  the  great 
ozonic  brine  on  both  sides,  it  comprises  the  most  favorable  health- 
chances  in  the  world.  (If  only  the  suffocating  crowding  of  some 
of  its  tenement  houses  could  be  broken  up.)  I  find  I  never  suf- 
ficiently realized  how  beautiful  are  the  upper  two-thirds  of  Man- 
hattan island.  I  am  stopping  at  Mott  Haven,  and  have  been 
familiar  now  for  ten  days  with  the  region  above  One-hundredth 
street,  and  along  the  Harlem  river  and  Washington  heights.  Am 
dwelling  a  few  days  with  my  friends,  Mr.  and  Mrs.  J.  H.  J.,  and 
a  merry  housefull  of  young  ladies.  Am  putting  the  last  touches 
on  the  printer's  copy  of  my  new  volume  of  "  Leaves  of  Grass  " 
— the  completed  book  at  last.  Work  at  it  two  or  three  hours, 
and  then  go  down  and  loaf  along  the  Harlem  river ;  have  just 
had  a  good  spell  of  this  recreation.  The  sun  sufficiently  veil'd, 
a  soft  south  breeze,  the  river  full  of  small  or  large  shells  (light 
taper  boats)  darting  up  and  down,  some  singly,  now  and  then 
long  ones  with  six  or  eight  young  fellows  practicing — very  in- 
spiriting sights.  Two  fine  yachts  lie  anchor' d  off  the  shore.  I 
linger  long,  enjoying  the  sundown,  the  glow,  the  streak'd  sky,  the 
heights,  distances,  shadows. 

Aug.  10. — As  I  haltingly  ramble  an  hour  or  two  this  forenoon 
by  the  more  secluded  parts  of  the  shore,  or  sit  under  an  old 
cedar  half  way  up  the  hill,  the  city  near  in  view,  many  young 
parties  gather  to  bathe  or  swim,  squads  of  boys,  generally  twos 
or  threes,  some  larger  ones,  along  the  sand-bottom,  or  off  an  old 
pier  close  by.  A  peculiar  and  pretty  carnival — at  its  height  a 
hundred  lads  or  young  men,  very  democratic,  but  all  decent  be- 


SPECIMEN  DA  YS,  ^ 

having.  The  laughter,  voices,  calls,  responses — the  springing 
and  diving  of  the  bathers  from  the  great  string-piece  of  the  de- 
cay'd  pier,  where  climb  or  stand  long  ranks  of  them,  naked, 
rose-color'd,  with  movements,  postures  ahead  of  any  sculpture. 
To  all  this,  the  sun,  so  bright,  the  dark-green  shadow  of  the  hills 
the  other  side,  the  amber-rolling  waves,  changing  as  the  tide  comes 
in  to  a  transparent  tea-color — the  frequent  splash  of  the  playful 
boys,  sousing — the  glittering  drops  sparkling,  and  the  good  west- 
ern breeze  blowing. 

"CUSTER'S  LAST  RALLY." 
Went  to-day  to  see  this  just-finish'd  painting  by  John  Mulvany, 
who  has  been  out  in  far  Dakota,  on  the  spot,  at  the  forts,  and 
among  the  frontiersmen,  soldiers  and  Indians,  for  the  last  two 
years,  on  purpose  to  sketch  it  in  from  reality,  or  the  best  that 
could  be  got  of  it.  Sat  for  over  an  hour  before  the  picture,  com- 
pletely absorb' d  in  the  first  view.  A  vast  canvas,  I  should  say 
twenty  or  twenty-two  feet  by  twelve,  all  crowded,  and  yet  not 
crowded,  conveying  such  a  vivid  play  of  color,  it  takes  a  little 
time  to  get  used  to  it.  There  are  no  tricks ;  there  is  no  throw- 
ing of  shades  in  masses ;  it  is  all  at  first  painfully  real,  over- 
whelming, needs  good  nerves  to  look  at  it.  Forty  or  fifty  figures, 
perhaps  more,  in  full  finish  and  detail  in  the  mid-ground,  with 
three  times  that  number,  or  more,  through  the  rest — swarms  upon 
swarms  of  savage  Sioux,  in  their  war-bonnets,  frantic,  mostly  on 
ponies,  driving  through  the  background,  through  the  smoke,  like 
a  hurricane  of  demons.  A  dozen  of  the  figures  are  wonderful. 
Altogether  a  western,  autochthonic  phase  of  America,  the  fron- 
tiers, culminating,  typical,  deadly,  heroic  to  the  uttermost — noth- 
ing in  the  books  like  it,  nothing  in  Homer,  nothing  in  Shak- 
spere ;  more  grim  and  sublime  than  either,  all  native,  all  our 
own,  and  all  a  fact.  A  great  lot  of  muscular,  tan -faced  men, 
brought  to  bay  under  terrible  circumstances — death  ahold  of 
them,  yet  every  man  undaunted,  not  one  losing  his  head,  wring- 
ing out  every  cent  of  the  pay  before  they  sell  their  lives.  Custer 
(his  hair  cut  short)  stands  in  the  middle,  with  dilated  eye  and 
extended  arm,  aiming  a  huge  cavalry  pistol.  Captain  Cook  is 
there,  partially  wounded,  blood  on  the  white  handkerchief  around 
his  head,  aiming  his  carbine  coolly,  half  kneeling — (his  body 
was  afterwards  found  close  by  Custer's.)  The  slaughter' d  or  half- 
slaughter' d  horses,  for  breastworks,  make  a  peculiar  feature.  Two 
dead  Indians,  herculean,  lie  in  the  foreground,  clutching  their 
Winchester  rifles,  very  characteristic.  The  many  soldiers,  their 
faces  and  attitudes,  the  carbines,  the  broad-brimm'd  western  hats, 
the  powder-smoke  in  puffs,  the  dying  horses  with  their  rolling  eyes 
almost  human  in  their  agony,  the  clouds  of  war-bonneted  Sioux 


I SS  SPEC/MEAT  DA  YS. 

in  the  background,  the  figures  of  Custer  and  Cook — with  indeed 
the  whole  scene,  dreadful,  yet  with  an  attraction  and  beauty  that 
will  remain  in  my  memory.  With  all  its  color  and  fierce  action, 
a  certain  Greek  continence  pervades  it.  A  sunny  sky  and  clear 
light  envelop  all.  There  is  an  almost  entire  absence  of  the 
stock  traits  of  European  war  pictures.  The  physiognomy  of  the 
work  is  realistic  and  Western.  I  only  saw  it  for  an  hour  or  so ; 
but  it  needs  to  be  seen  many  times — needs  to  be  studied  over 
and  over  again.  I  could  look  on  such  a  work  at  brief  intervals 
all  my  life  without  tiring ;  it  is  very  tonic  to  me ;  then  it  has  an 
ethic  purpose  below  all,  as  all  great  art  must  have.  The  artist 
said  the  sending  of  the  picture  abroad,  probably  to  London,  had 
been  talk'd  of.  I  advised  him  if  it  went  abroad  to  take  it  to 
Paris.  I  think  they  might  appreciate  it  there — nay,  they  cer- 
tainly would.  Then  I  would  like  to  show  Messieur  Crapeau 
that  some  things  can  be  done  in  America  as  well  as  others. 

SOME  OLD  ACQUAINTANCES— MEMORIES. 
Aug.  16. — "  Chalk  a  big  mark  for  to-day,"  was  one  of  the  say- 
ings of  an  old  sportsman-friend  of  mine,  when  he  had  had  un- 
usually good  luck — come  home  thoroughly  tired,  but  with  satis- 
factory results  of  fish  or  birds.  Well,  to-day  might  warrant  such 
a  mark  for  me.  Everything  propitious  from  the  start.  An  hour's 
fresh  stimulation,  coming  down  ten  miles  of  Manhattan  island  by 
railroad  and  8  o'clock  stage.  Then  an  excellent  breakfast  at  Pfaff's 
restaurant,  24th  street.  Our  host  himself,  an  old  friend  of  mine, 
quickly  appear'd  on  the  scene  to  welcome  me  and  bring  up  the 
news,  and,  first  opening  a  big  fat  bottle  of  the  best  wine  in  the 
cellar,  talk  about  ante-bellum  times,  '59  and  '60,  and  the  jovial 
suppers  at  his  then  Broadway  place,  near  Bleecker  street.  Ah, 
the  friends  and  names  and  frequenters,  those  times,  that  place. 
Most  are  dead — Ada  Clare,  Wilkins,  Daisy  Sheppard,  O'Brien, 
Henry  Clapp,  Stanley,  Mullin,  Wood,  Brougham,  Arnold — all 
gone.  And  there  Pfaff  and  I,  sitting  opposite  each  other  at  the 
little  table,  gave  a  remembrance  to  them  in  a  style  they  would 
have  themselves  fully  confirm'd,  namely,  big,  brimming,  fill'd- 
up  champagne-glasses,  drain'd  in  abstracted  silence,  very  leisurely, 
to  the  last  drop.  (Pfaff  is  a  generous  German  restaurateur,  silent, 
stout,  jolly,  and  I  should  say  the  best  selecter  of  champagne  in 

A  DISCOVERY  OF  OLD  AGE. 

Perhaps  the  best  is  always  cumulative.  One's  eating  and  drink- 
ing one  wants  fresh,  and  for  the  nonce,  right  off,  and  have  done 
with  it — but  I  would  not  give  a  straw  for  that  person  or  poem, 
or  friend,  or  city,  or  work  of  art,  that  was  not  more  grateful  the 


SPECIMEN  DA  VS.  t  gg 

second  time  than  the  first — and  more  still  the  third.  Nay,  I  do 
not  believe  any  grandest  eligibility  ever  comes  forth  at  first.  In 
my  own  experience,  (persons,  poems,  places,  characters,)  I  dis- 
cover the  best  hardly  ever  at  first,  (no  absolute  rule  about  it,  how- 
ever,) sometimes  suddenly  bursting  forth,  or  stealthily  opening 
to  me,  perhaps  after  years  of  unwitting  familiarity,  unapprecia- 
tion,  usage. 

A  VISIT,  AT  THE  LAST,  TO  R.  W.  EMERSON. 

Concord,  Mass. — Out  here  on  a  visit — elastic,  mellow,  Indian- 
summery  weather.  Came  to-day  from  Boston,  (a  pleasant  ride  of 
40  minutes  by  steam,  through  Somerville,  Belmont,  Waltham,  Stony 
Brook,  and  other  lively  towns,)  convoy'd  by  my  friend  F.  B. 
Sanborn,  and  to  his  ample  house,  and  the  kindness  and  hospi- 
tality of  Mrs.  S.  and  their  fine  family.  Am  writing  this  under 
the  shade  of  some  old  hickories  and  elms,  just  after  4  p.m.,  on  the 
porch,  within  a  stone's  throw  of  the  Concord  river.  Off  against 
me,  across  stream,  on  a  meadow  and  side-hill,  haymakers  are 
gathering  and  wagoning-in  probably  their  second  or  third  crop. 
The  spread  of  emerald-green  and  brown,  the  knolls,  the  score  or 
two  of  little  haycocks  dotting  the  meadow,  the  loaded-up  wagons, 
the  patient  horses,  the  slow-strong  action  of  the  men  and  pitch- 
forks— all  in  the  just-waning  afternoon,  with  patches  of  yellow 
sun-sheen,  mottled  by  long  shadows — a  cricket  shrilly  chirping, 
herald  of  the  dusk — a  boat  with  two  figures  noiselessly  gliding 
along  the  little  river,  passing  under  the  stone  bridge-arch — the 
slight  settling  haze  of  aerial  moisture,  the  sky  and  the  peaceful- 
ness  expanding  in  all  directions  and  overhead — fill  and  soothe 
me. 

Same  evening, — Never  had  I  a  better  piece  of  luck  befall  me : 
a  long  and  blessed  evening  with  Emerson,  in  a  way  I  couldn't 
have  wish'd  better  or  different.  For  nearly  two  hours  he  has 
been  placidly  sitting  where  I  could  see  his  face  in  the  best  light, 
near  me.  Mrs.  S.'s  back-parlor  well  fill'd  with  people,  neighbors, 
many  fresh  and  charming  faces,  women,  mostly  young,  but  some 
old.  My  friend  A.  B.  Alcott  and  his  daughter  Louisa  were  there 
early.  A  good  deal  of  talk,  the  subject  Henry  Thoreau — some 
new  glints  of  his  life  and  fortunes,  with  letters  to  and  from  him 
— one  of  the  best  by  Margaret  Fuller,  others  by  Horace  Greeley, 
Channing,  &c. — one  from  Thoreau  himself,  most  quaint  and  in- 
teresting. (No  doubt  I  seem'd  very  stupid  to  the  room-full  of 
company,  taking  hardly  any  part  in  the  conversation ;  but  I  had 
"my  own  pail  to  milk  in,"  as  the  Swiss  proverb  puts  it.)  My 
seat  and  the  relative  arrangement  were  such  that,  without  being 
rude,  or  anything  of  the  kind,  I  could  just  look  squarely  at  E., 


I90  SPECIMEN  DAYS. 

which  I  did  a  good  part  of  the  two  hours.  On  entering,  he  had 
spoken  very  briefly  and  politely  to  several  of  the  company,  then 
settled  himself  in  his  chair,  a  trifle  push'd  back,  and,  though  a 
listener  and  apparently  an  alert  one,  remain'd  silent  through  the 
whole  talk  and  discussion.  A  lady  friend  quietly  took  a  seat  next 
him,  to  give  special  attention.  A  good  color  in  his  face,  eyes  clear, 
with  the  well-known  expression  of  sweetness,  and  the  old  clear- 
peering  aspect  quite  the  same. 

Next  Day. — Several  hours  at  E.'s  house,  and  dinner  there.  An 
old  familiar  house,  (he  has  been  in  it  thirty-five  years,)  with  sur- 
roundings, furnishment,  roominess,  and  plain  elegance  and  full- 
ness, signifying  democratic  ease,  sufficient  opulence,  and  an  ad- 
mirable old-fashioned  simplicity — modern  luxury,  with  its  mere 
sumptuousness  and  affectation,  either  touch' d  lightly  upon  or 
ignored  altogether.  Dinner  the  same.  Of  course  the  best  of  the 
occasion  (Sunday,  September  18,  '81)  was  the  sight  of  E.  him- 
self. As  just  said,  a  healthy  color  in  the  cheeks,  and  good  light 
in  the  eyes,  cheery  expression,  and  just  the  amount  of  talking 
that  best  suited,  namely,  a  word  or  short  phrase  only  where 
needed,  and  almost  always  with  a  smile.  Besides  Emerson  himself, 
Mrs.  E.,  with  their  daughter  Ellen,  the  son  Edward  and  his  wife, 
with  my  friend  F.  S.  and  Mrs.  S.,  and  others,  relatives  and  inti- 
mates. Mrs.  Emerson,  resuming  the  subject  of  the  evening  be- 
fore, (I  sat  next  to  her,)  gave  me  further  and  fuller  information 
about  Thoreau,  who,  years  ago,  during  Mr.  E.'s  absence  in  Eu- 
rope, had  lived  for  some  time  in  the  family,  by  invitation. 

OTHER  CONCORD  NOTATIONS. 

Though  the  evening  at  Mr.  and  Mrs.  Sanborn's,  and  the  mem- 
orable family  dinner  at  Mr.  and  Mrs.  Emerson's,  have  most  pleas- 
antly and  permanently  fill'd  my  memory,  I  must  not  slight  other 
notations  of  Concord.  I  went  to  the  old  Manse,  walk'd  through 
the  ancient  garden,  enter'd  the  rooms,  noted  the  quaintness,  the 
unkempt  grass  and  bushes,  the  little  panes  in  the  windows,  the 
low  ceilings,  the  spicy  smell,  the  creepers  embowering  the  light. 
Went  to  the  Concord  battle  ground,  which  is  close  by,  scann'd 
French's  statue, "  the  Minute  Man,"  read  Emerson's  poetic  inscrip- 
tion on  the  base,  linger' d  a  long  while  on  the  bridge,  and  stopp'd 
by  the  grave  of  the  unnamed  British  soldiers  buried  there  the  day 
after  the  fight  in  April  '  75.  Then  riding  on,  (thanks  to  my  friend 
Miss  M.  and  her  spirited  white  ponies,  she  driving  them,)  a  half 
hour  at  Hawthorne's  and  Thoreau' s  graves.  I  got  out  and  went 
up  of  course  on  foot,  and  stood  a  long  while  and  ponder'd.  They 
lie  close  together  in  a  pleasant  wooded  spot  well  up  the  cemetery 
hill,  "  Sleepy  Hollow.' '     The  flat  surface  of  the  first  was  densely 


SPECIMEN  DA  VS. 


191 


cover' d  by  myrtle,  with  a  border  of  arbor-vitae,  and  the  other 
had  a  brown  headstone,  moderately  elaborate,  with  inscriptions. 
By  Henry's  side  lies  his  brother  John,  of  whom  much  was  ex- 
pected, but  he  died  young.  Then  to  Walden  pond,  that  beauti- 
fully embower' d  sheet  of  water,  and  spent  over  an  hour  there. 
On  the  spot  in  the  woods  where  Thoreau  had  his  solitary  house 
is  now  quite  a  cairn  of  stones,  to  mark  the  place ;  I  too  carried 
one  and  deposited  on  the  heap.  As  we  drove  back,  saw  the 
"School  of  Philosophy,"  but  it  was  shut  up,  and  I  would  not 
have  it  open'd  for  me.  Near  by  stopp'd  at  the  house  of  W.  T. 
Harris,  the  Hegelian,  who  came  out,  and  we  had  a  pleasant  chat 
while  I  sat  in  the  wagon.  I  shall  not  soon  forget  those  Concord 
drives,  and  especially  that  charming  Sunday  forenoon  one  with 
my  friend  Miss  M.,  and  the  white  ponies. 

BOSTON  COMMON— MORE  OF  EMERSON. 

Oct.  10-13. — I  spend  a  good  deal  of  time  on  the  Common, 
these  delicious  days  and  nights — every  mid-day  from  11.30  to 
about  1 — and  almost  every  sunset  another  hour.  I  know  all  the 
big  trees,  especially  the  old  elms  along  Tremont  and  Beacon 
streets,  and  have  come  to  a  sociable-silent  understanding  with 
most  of  them,  in  the  sunlit  air,  (yet  crispy-cool  enough,)  as  I  saun- 
ter along  the  wide  unpaved  walks.  Up  and  down  this  breadth  by 
Beacon  street,  between  these  same  old  elms,  I  walk'd  for  two 
hours,  of  a  bright  sharp  February  mid-day  twenty-one  years  ago, 
with  Emerson,  then  in  his  prime,  keen,  physically  and  morally 
magnetic,  arm'd  at  every  point,  and  when  he  chose,  wielding  the 
emotional  just  as  well  as  the  intellectual.  During  those  two 
hours  he  was  the  talker  and  I  the  listener.  It  was  an  argument- 
statement,  reconnoitring,  review,  attack,  and  pressing  home, 
(like  an  army  corps  in  order,  artillery,  cavalry,  infantry,)  of  all 
that  could  be  said  against  that  part  (and  a  main  part)  in  the  con- 
struction of  my  poems,  "  Children  of  Adam."  More  precious 
than  gold  to  me  that  dissertation — it  afforded  me,  ever  after, 
this  strange  and  paradoxical  lesson  ;  each  point  of  E.'s  statement 
was  unanswerable,  no  judge's  charge  ever  more  complete  or  con- 
vincing, I  could  never  hear  the  points  better  put — and  then  I  felt 
down  in  my  soul  the  clear  and  unmistakable  conviction  to  diso- 
bey all,  and  pursue  my  own  way.  "  What  have  you  to  say  then 
to  such  things?"  said  E.,  pausing  in  conclusion.  "  Only  that 
while  I  can't  answer  them  at  all,  I  feel  more  settled  than  ever  to 
adhere  to  my  own  theory,  and  exemplify  it,"  was  my  candid  re- 
sponse. Whereupon  we  went  and  had  a  good  dinner  at  the 
American  House.  And  thenceforward  I  never  waver'd  or  was 
touch 'd  with  qualms,  (as  I  confess  I  had  been  two  or  three  times 
before). 


192 


SPECIMEN  DA  YS. 


AN  OSSIANIC  NIGHT— DEAREST  FRIENDS. 

Nov.,  y8i. — Again  back  in  Camden.  As  I  cross  the  Delaware 
in  long  trips  to-night,  between  9  and  11,  the  scene  overhead  is  a 
peculiar  one — swift  sheets  of  flitting  vapor-gauze,  follow'd  by 
dense  clouds  throwing  an  inky  pall  on  everything.  Then  a  spell 
of  that  transparent  steel-gray  black  sky  I  have  noticed  under 
similar  circumstances,  on  which  the  moon  would  beam  for  a  few 
moments  with  calm  lustre,  throwing  down  a  broad  dazzle  of 
highway  on  the  waters;  then  the  mists  careering  again.  All  si- 
lently, yet  driven  as  if  by  the  furies  they  sweep  along, sometimes 
quite  thin,  sometimes  thicker — a  real  Ossianic  night — amid  the 
whirl,  absent  or  dead  friends,  the  old,  the  past,  somehow  ten- 
derly suggested — while  the  Gael-strains  chant  themselves  from 
the  mists — ["  Be  thy  soul  blest,  O  Carril !  in  the  midst  of  thy 
eddying  winds.  O  that  thou  woulds't  come  to  my  hall  when  I 
am  alone  by  night !  And  thou  dost  come,  my  friend.  I  hear 
often  thy  light  hand  on  my  harp,  when  it  hangs  on  the  distant 
wall,  and  the  feeble  sound  touches  my  ear.  Why  dost  thou  not 
speak  to  me  in  my  grief,  and  tell  me  when  I  shall  behold  my 
friends?  But  thou  passest  away  in  thy  murmuring  blast;  the 
wind  whistles  through  the  gray  hairs  of  Ossian."] 

But  most  of  all,  those  changes  of  moon  and  sheets  of  hurrying 
vapor  and  black  clouds,  with  the  sense  of  rapid  action  in  weird 
silence,  recall  the  far-back  Erse  belief  that  such  above  were  the 
preparations  for  receiving  the  wraiths  of  just-slain  warriors — 
["We  sat  that  night  in  Selmax  round  the  strength  of  the  shell. 
The  wind  was  abroad  in  the  oaks.  The  spirit  of  the  mountain 
roar'd.  The  blast  came  rustling  through  the  hall,  and  gently 
touch'd  my  harp.  The  sound  was  mournful  and  low,  like  the 
song  of  the  tomb.  Fingal  heard  it  the  first.  The  crowded  sighs 
of  his  bosom  rose.  Some  of  my  heroes  are  low,  said  the  gray- 
hair'd  king  of  Morven.  I  hear  the  sound  of  death  on  the  harp. 
Ossian,  touch  the  trembling  string.  Bid  the  sorrow  rise,  that  their 
spirits  may  fly  with  joy  to  Morven's  woody  hills.  I  touch'd  the 
harp  before  the  king;  the  sound  was  mournful  and  low.  Bend 
forward  from  your  clouds,  I  said,  ghosts  of  my  fathers !  bend. 
Lay  by  the  red  terror  of  your  course.  Receive  the  falling  chief; 
whether  he  comes  from  a  distant  land,  or  rises  from  the  roll- 
ing sea.  Let  his  robe  of  mist  be  near;  his  spear  that  is  form'd 
of  a  cloud.  Place  a  half-extinguish 'd  meteor  by  his  side,  in 
the  form  of  a  hero's  sword.  And  oh !  let  his  countenance  be 
lovely,  that  his  friends  may  delight  in  his  presence.  Bend  from 
your  clouds,  I  said,  ghosts  of  my  fathers,  bend.  Such  was  my 
song  in  Selma,  to  the  lightly  trembling  harp."] 

How  or  why  I  know  not,  just  at  the  moment,  but  I  too  muse 


SPECIMEN  DAYS.  193 

and  think  of  my  best  friends  in  their  distant  homes — of  William 

O'Connor,  of  Maurice  Bucke,  of  John  Burroughs,  and  of  Mrs. 

Gilchrist — friends   of   my  soul — stanchest   friends  of  my  other 

soul,  my  poems. 

ONLY  A  NEW  FERRY  BOAT. 

Jan.  12,  '82. — Such  a  show  as  the  Delaware  presented  an  hour 
before  sundown  yesterday  evening,  all  along  between  Philadel- 
phia and  Camden,  is  worth  weaving  into  an  item.  It  was  full 
tide,  a  fair  breeze  from  the  southwest,  the  water  of  a  pale  tawny 
color,  and  just  enough  motion  to  make  things  frolicsome  and 
lively.  Add  to  these  an  approaching  sunset  of  unusual  splendor, 
a  broad  fumble  of  clouds,  with  much  golden  haze  and  profusion 
of  beaming  shaft  and  dazzle.  In  the  midst  of  all,  in  the  clear 
drab  of  the  afternoon  light,  there  steam'd  up  the  river  the  large, 
new  boat,  "  the  Wenonah,"  as  pretty  an  object  as  you  could  wish 
to  see,  lightly  and  swiftly  skimming  along,  all  trim  and  white, 
cover'cf  with  flags,  transparent  red  and  blue,  streaming  out  in  the 
breeze.  Only  a  new  ferry-boat,  and  yet  in  its  fitness  comparable 
with  the  prettiest  product  of  Nature's  cunning,  and  rivaling  it. 
High  up  in  the  transparent  ether  gracefully  balanced  and  circled 
four  or  five  great  sea  hawks,  while  here  below,  amid  the  pomp 
and  picturesqueness  of  sky  and  river,  swam  this  creation  of  arti- 
ficial beauty  and  motion  and  power,  in  its  way  no  less  perfect. 

DEATH  OF  LONGFELLOW. 

Camden,  April 3,  '82. — I  have  just  return 'd  from  an  old  forest 
haunt,  where  I  love  to  go  occasionally  away  from  parlors,  pave- 
ments, and  the  newspapers  and  magazines — and  where,  of  a  clear 
forenoon,  deep  in  the  shade  of  pines  and  cedars  and  a  tangle  of 
old  laurel-trees  and  vines,  the  news  of  Longfellow's  death  first 
reach'd  me.  For  want  of  anything  better,  let  me  lightly  twine  a 
sprig  of  the  sweet  ground-ivy  trailing  so  plentifully  through  the 
dead  leaves  at  my  feet,  with  reflections  of  that  half  hour  alone, 
there  in  the  silence,  and  lay  it  as  my  contribution  on  the  dead 
bard's  grave. 

Longfellow  in  his  voluminous  works  seems  to  me  not  only 
to  be  eminent  in  the  style  and  forms  of  poetical  expression 
that  mark  the  present  age,  (an  idiosyncrasy,  almost  asickness,  of 
verbal  melody,)  but  to  bring  what  is  always  dearest  as  poetry  to 
the  general  human  heart  and  taste,  and  probably  must  be  so  in 
the  nature  of  things.  He  is  certainly  the  sort  of  bard  and  coun- 
teractant  most  needed  for  our  materialistic,  self-assertive,  money- 
worshipping,  Anglo-Saxon  races,  and  especially  for  the  present 
age  in  America — an  age  tyrannically  regulated  with  reference  to 
the  manufacturer,  the  merchant,  the  financier,  the  politician  and 

17 


194 


SPECIMEN  DA  VS. 


the  day  workman — for  whom  and  among  whom  he  comes  as  the 
poet  of  melody,  courtesy,  deference — poet  of  the  mellow  twilight 
of  the  past  in  Italy,  Germany,  Spain,  and  in  Northern  Europe — 
poet  of  all  sympathetic  gentleness — and  universal  poet  of  women 
and  young  people.  I  should  have  to  think  long  if  I  were  ask'd 
to  name  the  man  who  has  done  more,  and  in  more  valuable  di- 
rections, for  America. 

I  doubt  if  there  ever  was  before  such  a  fine  intuitive  judge  and 
selecter  of  poems.  His  translations  of  many  German  and  Scan- 
dinavian pieces  are  said  to  be  better  than  the  vernaculars.  He 
does  not  urge  or  lash.  His  influence  is  like  good  drink  or  air. 
He  is  not  tepid  either,  but  always  vital,  with  flavor,  motion,  grace. 
He  strikes  a  splendid  average,  and  does  not  sing  exceptional  pas- 
sions, or  humanity's  jagged  escapades.  He  is  not  revolutionary, 
brings  nothing  offensive  or  new,  does  not  deal  hard  blows.  On 
the  contrary,  his  songs  soothe  and  heal,  or  if  they  excite,  it  is  a 
healthy  and  agreeable  excitement.  His  very  anger  is  geYitle,  is 
at  second  hand,  (as  in  the  "  Quadroon  Girl"  and  the  "Wit- 
nesses.") 

There  is  no  undue  element  of  pensiveness  in  Longfellow's 
strains.  Even  in  the  early  translation,  the  Manrique,  the  move- 
ment is  as  of  strong  and  steady  wind  or  tide,  holding  up  and  buoy- 
ing. Death  is  not  avoided  through  his  many  themes,  but  there 
is  something  almost  winning  in  his  original  verses  and  render- 
ings on  that  dread  subject — as,  closing  "the  Happiest  Land  " 
dispute, 

And  then  the  landlord's  daughter 

Up  to  heaven  rais'd  her  hand, 
And  said,  "  Ye  may  no  more  contend, 
There  lies  the  happiest  land." 

To  the  ungracious  complaint-charge  of  his  want  of  racy  na- 
tivity and  special  originality,  I  shall  only  say  that  America  and 
the  world  may  well  be  reverently  thankful — can  never  be  thankful 
enough — for  any  such  singing-bird  vouchsafed  out  of  the  centu- 
ries, v/ithout  asking  that  the  notes  be  different  from  those  of  other 
songsters ;  adding  what  I  have  heard  Longfellow  himself  say, 
that  ere  the  New  World  can  be  worthily  original,  and  announce 
herself  and  her  own  heroes,  she  must  be  well  saturated  with  the 
originality  of  others,  and  respectfully  consider  the  heroes  that 
lived  before  Agamemnon. 

STARTING  NEWSPAPERS. 
Reminiscences — (From  the"  Camden  Courier.1*) — As  I  sat  taking 
my  evening  sail  across  the   Delaware  in   the  staunch  ferryboat 
"  Beverly,"  a  night  or  two  ago,  I  was  join'd  by  two  young  re- 
porter friends.     "  I  have  a  message  for  you,"  said  one  of  them  ; 


SPECIMEN  DA  YS.  1 95 

"  the  C.  folks  told  me  to  say  they  would  like  a  piece  sign'd  by 
your  name,  to  go  in  their  first  number.  Can  you  do  it  for 
them?"  "I  guess  so,"  said  I;  "  what  might  it  be  about?" 
"  Well,  anything  on  newspapers,  or  perhaps  what  you've  done 
yourself,  starting  them."  And  off  the  boys  went,  for  we  had 
reach'd  the  Philadelphia  side.  The  hour  was  fine  and  mild,  the 
bright  half-moon  shining;  Venus,  with  excess  of  splendor,  just 
setting  in  the  west,  and  the  great  Scorpion  rearing  its  length 
more  than  half  up  in  the  southeast.  As  I  cross' d  leisurely  for 
an  hour  in  the  pleasant  night-scene,  my  young  friend's  words 
brought  up  quite  a  string  of  reminiscences. 

I  commenced  when  I  was  but  a  boy  of  eleven  or  twelve  writ- 
ing sentimental  bits  for  the  old  "Long  Island  Patriot,"  in 
Brooklyn;  this  was  about  1832.  Soon  after,  I  had  a  piece  or 
two  in  George  P.  Morris's  then  celebrated  and  fashionable  "Mir- 
ror,",of  New  York  city.  I  remember  with  what  half-suppress' d 
excitement  I  used  to  watch  for  the  big,  fat,  red-faced,  slow-mov- 
ing, very  old  English  carrier  who  distributed  the  "Mirror"  in 
Brooklyn ;  and  when  I  got  one.  opening  and  cutting  the  leaves 
with  trembling  fingers.  How  it  made  my  heart  double-beat  to 
see  my  piece  on  the  pretty  white  paper,  in  nice  type. 

My  first  real  venture  was  the  "Long  Islander,"  in  my  own 
beautiful  town  of  Huntington,  in  1839.  I  was  about  twenty  years 
old.  I  had  been  teaching  country  school  for  two  or  three  years 
in  various  parts  of  Suffolk  and  Queens  counties,  but  liked  print- 
ing ;  had  been  at  it  while  a  lad,  learn'd  the  trade  of  compositor, 
and  was  encouraged  to  start  a  paper  in  the  region  where  I  was 
born.  I  went  to  New  York,  bought  a  press  and  types,  hired  some 
little  help,  but  did  most  of  the  work  myself,  including  the  press- 
work.  Everything  seem'd  turning  out  well ;  (only  my  own  rest- 
lessness prevented  me  gradually  establishing  a  permanent  property 
there.)  I  bought  a  good  horse,  and  every  week  went  all  round 
the  country  serving  my  papers,  devoting  one  day  and  night  to  it. 
I  never  had  happier  jaunts — going  over  to  south  side,  to  Babylon, 
down  the  south  road,  across  to  Smithtown  and  Comae,  and  back 
home.  The  experiences  of  those  jaunts,  the  dear  old-fashion 'd 
farmers  and  their  wives,  the  stops  by  the  hay-fields,  the  hospitality, 
nice  dinners,  occasional  evenings,  the  girls,  the  rides  through  the 
brush,  come  up  in  my  memory  to  this  day. 

I  next  went  to  the  "Aurora  "  daily  in  New  York  city — a  sort 
of  free  lance.  Also  wrote  regularly  for  the  "Tattler,"  an  even- 
ing paper.  With  these  and  a  little  outside  work  I  was  occupied 
off  and  on,  until  I  went  to  edit  the  "  Brooklyn  Eagle,"  where  for 
two  years  I  had  one  of  the  pleasantest  sits  of  my  life — a  good 
owner,  good  pay,  and  easy  work  and  hours.     The  troubles  in  the 


196 


SPECIMEN  DA  YS. 


Democratic  party  broke  forth  about  those  times  (1848-' 49)  and  I 
split  off  with  the  radicals,  which  led  to  rows  with  the  boss  and 
"  the  party,"  and  I  lost  my  place. 

Being  now  out  of  a  job,  I  was  offer'd  impromptu,  (it  hap- 
pen'd  between  the  acts  one  night  in  the  lobby  of  the  old  Broad- 
way theatre  near  Pearl  street,  New  York  city,)  a  good  chance  to 
go  down  to  New  Orleans  on  the  staff  of  the  <l  Crescent,"  a  daily 
to  be  started  there  with  plenty  of  capital  behind  it.  One  of  the 
owners,  who  was  north  buying  material,  met  me  walking  in  the 
lobby,  and  though  that  was  our  first  acquaintance,  after  fifteen 
minutes'  talk  (and  a  drink)  we  made  a  formal  bargain,  and  he 
paid  me  two  hundred  dollars  down  to  bind  the  contract  and  bear 
my  expenses  to  New  Orleans.  I  started  two  days  afterwards  ; 
had  a  good  leisurely  time,  as  the  paper  wasn't  to  be  out  in  three 
weeks.  I  enjoy'd  my  journey  and  Louisiana  life  much.  Return- 
ing to  Brooklyn  a  year  or  two  afterward  I  started  the  "  Free- 
man," first  as  a  weekly,  then  daily.  Pretty  soon  the  secession 
war  broke  out,  and  I,  too,  got  drawn  in  the  current  southward, 
and  spent  the  following  three  years  there,  (as  memorandized  pre- 
ceding.) 

Besides  starting  them  as  aforementioned,  I  have  had  to  do,  one 
time  or  another,  during  my  life,  with  a  long  list  of  papers,  at 
divers  places,  sometimes  under  queer  circumstances.  During  the 
war,  the  hospitals  at  Washington,  among  other  means  of  amuse- 
ment, printed  a  little  sheet  among  themselves,  surrounded  by 
wounds  and  death,  the  "Armory  Square  Gazette,"  to  which  I 
contributed.  The  same  long  afterward,  casually,  to  a  paper — I 
think  it  was  call'd  the  "  Jimplecute" — out  in  Colorado  where  I 
stopp'd  at  the  time.  When  I  was  in  Quebec  province,  in  Can- 
ada, in  1880,  I  went  into  the  queerest  little  old  French  printing 
office  near  Tadousac.  It  was  far  more  primitive  and  ancient  than 
my  Camden  friend  William  Kurtz's  place  up  on  Federal  street. 
I  remember,  as  a  youngster,  several  characteristic  old  printers  of 
a  kind  hard  to  be  seen  these  days. 

THE  GREAT  UNREST  OF  WHICH  WE  ARE  PART. 

My  thoughts  went  floating  on  vast  and  mystic  currents  as  I 
sat  to-day  in  solitude  and  half-shade  by  the  creek — returning 
mainly  to  two  principal  centres.  One  of  my  cherish'd  themes 
for  a  never-achiev'd  poem  has  been  the  two  impetuses  of  man 
and  the  universe — in  the  latter,  creation's  incessant  unrest,*  ex- 

*  "  Fifty  thousand  years  ago  the  constellation  of  the  Great  Bear  or  Dipper 
was  a  starry  cross ;  a  hundred  thousand  years  hence  the  imaginary  Dipper 
will  be  upside  down,  and  the  stars  which  form  the  bowl  and  handle  will  have 
changed  places.  The  misty  nebulae  are  moving,  and  besides  are  whirling 
around  in  great  spirals,  some  one  way,  some  another.     Every  molecule  of 


SPECIMEN  DA  YS. 


197 


foliation,  (Darwin's  evolution,  I  suppose.)  Indeed,  what  is  Na- 
ture but  change,  in  all  its  visible,  and  still  more  its  invisible  pro- 
cesses ?  Or  what  is  humanity  in  its  faith,  love,  heroism,  poetry, 
even  morals,  but  emotion  ? 

BY  EMERSON'S  GRAVE. 

May  6,  '82. — We  stand  by  Emerson's  new-made  grave  without 
sadness — indeed  a  solemn  joy  and  faith,  almost  hauteur — our  soul- 
benison  no  mere 

"  Warrior,  rest,  thy  task  is  done," 

for  one  beyond  the  warriors  of  the  world  lies  surely  symboll'd 
here.  A  just  man,  poised  on  himself,  all-loving,  all-inclosing, 
and  sane  and  clear  as  the  sun.  Nor  does  it  seem  so  much  Emer- 
son himself  we  are  here  to  honor — it  is  conscience,  simplicity, 
culture,  humanity's  attributes  at  their  best,  yet  applicable  if  need 
be  to  average  affairs,  and  eligible  to  all.  So  used  are  we  to  sup- 
pose a  heroic  death  can  only  come  from  out  of  battle  or  storm, 
or  mighty  personal  contest,  or  amid  dramatic  incidents  or  dan- 
ger, (have  we  not  been  taught  so  for  ages  by  all  the  plays  and 
poems  ?)  that  few  even  of  those  who  most  sympathizingly  mourn 
Emerson's  late  departure  will  fully  appreciate  the  ripen'd  gran- 
deur of  that  event,  with  its  play  of  calm  and  fitness,  like  even- 
ing light  on  the  sea. 

How  I  shall  henceforth  dwell  on  the  blessed  hours  when,  not 
long  since,  I  saw  that  benignant  face,  the  clear  eyes,  the  silently 
smiling  mouth,  the  form  yet  upright  in  its  great  age — to  the  very 
last,  with  so  much  spring  and  cheeriness,  and  such  an  absence  of 
decrepitude,  that  even  the  term  venerable  hardly  seem'd  fitting. 

Perhaps  the  life  now  rounded  and  completed  in  its  mortal  de- 
velopment, and  which  nothing  can  change  or  harm  more,  has  its 
most  illustrious  halo,  not  in  its  splendid  intellectual  or  esthetic 
products,  but  as  forming  in  its  entirety  one  of  the  few,  (alas ! 
how  few !)  perfect  and  flawless  excuses  for  being,  of  the  entire 
literary  class. 

We  can  say,  as  Abraham  Lincoln  at  Gettysburg,  It  is  not  we 
who  come  to  consecrate  the  dead — we  reverently  come  to  receive, 
if  so  it  may  be,  some  consecration  to  ourselves  and  daily  work 
from  him. 

matter  in  the  whole  universe  is  swinging  to  and  fro ;  every  particle  of  ether 
which  fills  space  is  in  jelly-like  vibration.  Light  is  one  kind  of  motion,  heat 
another,  electricity  another,  magnetism  another,  sound  another.  Every  human 
sense  is  the  result  of  emotion ;  every  perception,  every  thought  is  but  motion 
of  the  molecules  of  the  brain  translated  by  that  incomprehensible  thing  we 
call  mind.  The  processes  of  growth,  of  existence,  of  decay,  whether  in 
worlds,  or  in  the  minutest  organisms,  are  but  motion." 


198 


SPECIMEN  DA  VS. 


AT  PRESENT  WRITING— PERSONAL. 

A  letter  to  a  German  friend — extract. 

May  31,  '82. — "  From  to-day  I  enter  upon  my  64th  year.  The 
paralysis  that  first  affected  me  nearly  ten  years  ago,  has  since  re- 
main'd,  with  varying  course — seems  to  have  settled  quietly  down, 
and  will  probably  continue.  I  easily  tire,  am  very  clumsy,  can- 
not walk  far;  but  my  spirits  are  first-rate.  I  go  around  in  public 
almost  every  day — now  and  then  take  long  trips,  by  railroad  or 
boat,  hundreds  of  miles — live  largely  in  the  open  air — am  sun- 
burnt and  stout,  (weigh  190) — keep  up  my  activity  and  interest 
in  life,  people,  progress,  and  the  questions  of  the  day.  About 
two-thirds  of  the  time  I  am  quite  comfortable.  What  mentality 
I  ever  had  remains  entirely  unaffected ;  though  physically  I  am 
a  half-paralytic,  and  likely  to  be  so,  long  as  I  live.  But  the 
principal  object  of  my  life  seems  to  have  been  accomplish'd — I 
have  the  most  devoted  and  ardent  of  friends,  and  affectionate 
relatives — and  of  enemies  I  really  make  no  account." 

AFTER  TRYING  A  CERTAIN  BOOK. 

I  tried  to  read  a  beautifully  printed  and  scholarly  volume  on 
"the  Theory  of  Poetry,"  received  by  mail  this  morning  from 
England — but  gave  it  up  at  last  for  a  bad  job.  Here  are  some 
capricious  pencillings  that  follow'd,  as  I  find  them  in  my  notes : 

In  youth  and  maturity  Poems  are  charged  with  sunshine  and 
varied  pomp  of  day  ;  but  as  the  soul  more  and  more  takes  prece- 
dence, (the  sensuous  still  included,)  the  Dusk  becomes  the 
poet's  atmosphere.  I  too  have  sought,  and  ever  seek,  the  bril- 
liant sun,  and  make  my  songs  according.  But  as  I  grow  old,  the 
half-lights  of  evening  are  far  more  to  me. 

The  play  of  Imagination,  with  the  sensuous  objects  of  Na- 
ture for  symbols,  and  Faith — with  Love  and  Pride  as  the  unseen 
impetus  and  moving-power  of  all,  make  up  the  curious  chess- 
game  of  a  poem. 

Common  teachers  or  critics  are  always  asking  "What  does  it 
mean?"  Symphony  of  fine  musician,  or  sunset,  or  sea-waves 
rolling  up  the  beach — what  do  they  mean  ?  Undoubtedly  in  the 
most  subtle-elusive  sense  they  mean  something — as  love  does, 
and  religion  does,  and  the  best  poem ; — but  who  shall  fathom 
and  define  those  meanings?  (I  do  not  intend  this  as  a  warrant 
for  wildness  and  frantic  escapades — but  to  justify  the  soul's  fre- 
quent joy  in  what  cannot  be  defined  to  the  intellectual  part,  or 
to  calculation.) 

At  its  best,  poetic  lore  is  like  what  may  be  heard  of  conversa- 
tion in  the  dusk,  from  speakers  far  or  hid,  of  which  we  get  only 


SPE  CIMEN  DA  VS.  1 99 

a  few  broken  murmurs.     What  is  not  gather' d  is  far  more — per- 
haps the  main  thing. 

Grandest  poetic  passages  are  only  to  be  taken  at  free  removes, 
as  we  sometimes  look  for  stars  at  night,  not  by  gazing  directly 
toward  them,  but  off  one  side. 

{To  a  poetic  student  and  friend.) — I  only  seek  to  put  you  in 
rapport.  Your  own  brain,  heart,  evolution,  must  not  only  under- 
stand the  matter,  but  largely  supply  it. 

FINAL  CONFESSIONS— LITERARY  TESTS. 

So  draw  near  their  end  these  garrulous  notes.  There  have 
doubtless  occurr'd  some  repetitions,  technical  errors  in  the  con- 
secutiveness  of  dates,  in  the  minutiae  of  botanical,  astronomical, 
&c,  exactness,  and  perhaps  elsewhere ; — for  in  gathering  up, 
writing,  peremptorily  dispatching  copy,  this  hot  weather,  (last  of 
July  and  through  August,  '82,)  and  delaying  not  the  printers,  I 
have  had  to  hurry  along,  no  time  to  spare.  But  in  the  deepest 
veracity  of  all — in  reflections  of  objects,  scenes,  Nature's  out- 
pourings, to  my  senses  and  receptivity,  as  they  seem'd  to  me — 
in  the  work  of  giving  those  who  care  for  it,  some  authentic 
glints,  specimen-days  of  my  life — and  in  the  dona  fide  spirit  and 
relations,  from  author  to  reader,  on  all  the  subjects  design'd,  and 
as  far  as  they  go,  I  feel  to  make  unmitigated  claims. 

The  synopsis  of  my  early  life,  Long  Island,  New  York  city, 
and  so  forth,  and  the  diary-jottings  in  the  Secession  war,  tell 
their  own  story.  My  plan  in  starting  what  constitutes  most 
of  the  middle  of  the  book,  was  originally  for  hints  and  data  of 
a  Nature-poem  that  should  carry  one's  experiences  a  few  hours, 
commencing  at  noon-flush,  and  so  through  the  after-part  of  the 
day — I  suppose  led  to  such  idea  by  own  life's  afternoon  having 
arrived.  But  I  soon  found  I  could  move  at  more  ease,  by  giving 
the  narrative  at  first  hand.  (Then  there  is  a  humiliating  lesson 
one  learns,  in  serene  hours,  of  a  fine  day  or  night.  Nature  seems 
to  look  on  all  fixed-up  poetry  and  art  as  something  almost  im- 
pertinent.) 

Thus  I  went  on,  years  following,  various  seasons  and  areas, 
spinning  forth  my  thought  beneath  the  night  and  stars,  (or  as  I 
was  confined  to  my  room  by  half-sickness,)  or  at  midday  looking 
out  upon  the  sea,  or  far  north  steaming  over  the  Saguenay's 
black  breast,  jotting  all  down  in  the  loosest  sort  of  chronological 
order,  and  here  printing  from  my  impromptu  notes,  hardly  even 
the  seasons  group'd  together,  or  anything  corrected — so  afraid 
of  dropping  what  smack  of  outdoors  or  sun  or  starlight  might 
cling  to  the  lines,  I  dared  not  try  to  meddle  with  or  smooth 
them.    Every  now  and  then,  (not  often,  but  for  a  foil,)  I  carried 


2oo  SPECIMEN  DA  VS. 

a  book  in  my  pocket — or  perhaps  tore  out  from  some  broken  or 
cheap  edition  a  bunch  of  loose  leaves ;  most  always  had  some- 
thing of  the  sort  ready,  but  only  took  it  out  when  the  mood  de- 
manded. In  that  way,  utterly  out  of  reach  of  literary  conven- 
tions, I  re-read  many  authors. 

I  cannot  divest  my  appetite  of  literature,  yet  I  find  myself 
eventually  trying  it  all  by  Nature — first  premises  many  call  it, 
but  really  the  crowning  results  of  all,  laws,  tallies  and  proofs. 
(Has  it  never  occurr'd  to  any  one  how  the  last  deciding  tests  ap- 
.  plicable  to  a  book  are  entirely  outside  of  technical  and  grammat- 
ical ones,  and  that  any  truly  first-class  production  has  little  or 
nothing  to  do  with  the  rules  and  calibres  of  ordinary  critics?  or 
the  bloodless  chalk  of  Allibone's  Dictionary  ?  I  have  fancied 
the  ocean  and  the  daylight,  the  mountain  and  the  forest,  putting 
their  spirit  in  a  judgment  on  our  books.  I  have  fancied  some 
disembodied  human  soul  giving  its  verdict.) 

NATURE  AND  DEMOCRACY— MORALITY. 

Democracy  most  of  all  affiliates  with  the  open  air,  is  sunny 
and  hardy  and  sane  only  with  Nature — just  as  much  as  Art  is. 
Something  is  required  to  temper  both — to  check  them,  restrain 
them  from  excess,  morbidity.  I  have  wanted,  before  departure, 
to  bear  special  testimony  to  a  very  old  lesson  and  requisite. 
American  Democracy,  in  its  myriad  personalities,  in  factories, 
work-shops,  stores,  offices — through  the  dense  streets  and  houses 
of  cities,  and  all  their  manifold  sophisticated  life — must  either 
be  fibred,  vitalized,  by  regular  contact  with  out-door  light  and 
air  and  growths,  farm-scenes,  animals,  fields,  trees,  birds,  sun- 
warmth  and  free  skies,  or  it  will  morbidly  dwindle  and  pale. 
We  cannot  have  grand  races  of  mechanics,  work  people,  and 
commonalty,  (the  only  specific  purpose  of  America,)  on  any  less 
terms.  I  conceive  of  no  flourishing  and  heroic  elements  of  De- 
mocracy in  the  United  States,  or  of  Democracy  maintaining 
itself  at  all,  without  the  Nature-element  forming  a  main  part — to 
be  its  health-element  and  beauty-element — to  really  underlie  the 
whole  politics,  sanity,  religion  and  art  of  the  New  World. 

Finally,  the  morality:  "  Virtue,"  said  Marcus  Aurelius,  "what 
is  it,  only  a  living  and  enthusiastic  sympathy  with  Nature?" 
Perhaps  indeed  the  efforts  of  the  true  poets,  founders,  religions, 
literatures,  all  ages,  have  been,  and  ever  will  be,  our  time  and 
times  to  come,  essentially  the  same — to  bring  people  back  from 
their  persistent  strayings  and  sickly  abstractions,  to  the  costless 
average,  divine,  original  concrete. 


COLLECT. 


(20I) 


ONE  OR  TWO  INDEX  ITEMS. 

Though  the  ensuing  Collect  and  preceding  Specimen  Days  are  both 
largely  from  memoranda  already  existing,  the  hurried  peremptory  needs  of 
copy  for  the  printers,  already  referr'd  to — (the  musicians'  story  of  a  com- 
poser up  in  a  garret  rushing  the  middle  body  and  last  of  his  score  together, 
while  the  fiddlers  are  playing  the  first  parts  down  in  the  concert-room) — 
of  this  haste,  while  quite  willing  to  get  the  consequent  stimulus  of  life  and 
motion,  I  am  sure  there  must  have  resulted  sundry  technical  errors.  If  any 
are  too  glaring  they  will  be  corrected  in  a  future  edition. 

A  special  word  about  "  Pieces  in  Early  Youth,"  at  the  end.  On  jaunts 
over  Long  Island,  as  boy  and  young  fellow,  nearly  half  a  century  ago,  I  heard 
of,  or  came  across  in  my  own  experience,  characters,  true  occurrences,  inci- 
dents, which  I  tried  my  'prentice  hand  at  recording — (I  was  then  quite  an 
"abolitionist"  and  advocate  of  the  "temperance"  and  "anti-capital-punish- 
ment" causes) — and  publish'd  during  occasional  visits  to  New  York  city.  A 
majority  of  the  sketches  appear'd  first  in  the  "  Democratic  Review,"  others  in 
the  "  Columbian  Magazine,"  or  the  "  American  Review,"  of  that  period. 
My  serious  wish  were  to  have  all  those  crude  and  boyish  pieces  quietly 
dropp'd  in  oblivion — but  to  avoid  the  annoyance  of  their  surreptitious  issue, 
(as  lately  announced,  from  outsiders,)  I  have,  with  some  qualms,  tack'd  them 
on  here.  A  Dough-Face  Song  came  out  first  in  the  "  Evening  Post" — Blood- 
Money,  and  Wounded  in  the  House  of  Friends,  in  the  "  Tribune." 

Poetry  To-Day  in  America,  &c,  first  appear'd  (under  the  name  of  "  The 
Poetry  of  the  Future ,")  in  "The  North  American  Review"  for  February, 
1 88 1.  A  Memorandum  at  a  Venture,  in  same  periodical,  some  time  after- 
ward. 

Several  of  the  convalescent  out-door  scenes  and  literary  items,  preceding, 
originally  appear'd  in  the  fortnightly  "  Critic,"  of  New  York. 


(  202  ) 


DEMOCRATIC  VISTAS. 


As  the  greatest  lessons  of  Nature  through  the  universe  are  per- 
haps the  lessons  of  variety  and  freedom,  the  same  present  the 
greatest  lessons  also  in  New  World  politics  and  progress.  If  a 
man  were  ask'd,  for  instance,  the  distinctive  points  contrasting 
modern  European  and  American  political  and  other  life  with  the 
old  Asiatic  cultus,  as  lingering-bequeath'd  yet  in  China  and  Tur- 
key, he  might  find  the  amount  of  them  in  John  Stuart  Mill's  pro- 
found essay  on  Liberty  in  the  future,  where  he  demands  two  main 
constituents,  or  sub-strata,  for  a  truly  grand  nationality — ist,  a  large 
variety  of  character — and  2d,  full  play  for  human  nature  to  ex- 
pand itself  in  numberless  and  even  conflicting  directions — (seems 
to  be  for  general  humanity  much  like  the  influences  that  make 
up,  in  their  limitless  field,  that  perennial  health-action  of  the  air 
we  call  the  weather — an  infinite  number  of  currents  and  forces, 
and  contributions,  and  temperatures,  and  cross  purposes,  whose 
ceaseless  play  of  counterpart  upon  counterpart  brings  constant 
restoration  and  vitality.)  With  this  thought — and  not  for  itself 
alone,  but  all  it  necessitates,  and  draws  after  it — let  me  begin  my 
speculations. 

America,  filling  the  present  with  greatest  deeds  and  problems, 
cheerfully  accepting  the  past,  including  feudalism,  (as,  indeed, 
the  present  is  but  the  legitimate  birth  of  the  past,  including  feu- 
dalism,) counts,  as  I  reckon,  for  her  justification  and  success,  (for 
who,  as  yet,  dare  claim  success?)  almost  entirely  on  the  future. 
Nor  is  that  hope  unwarranted.  To-day,  ahead,  though  dimly 
yet,  we  see,  in  vistas,  a  copious,  sane,  gigantic  offspring.  For  our 
New  World  I  consider  far  less  important  for  what  it  has  done,  or 
what  it  is,  than  for  results  to  come.  Sole  among  nationalities, 
these  States  have  assumed  the  task  to  put  in  forms  of  lasting 
power  and  practicality,  on  areas  of  amplitude  rivaling  the  op- 
erations of  the  physical  kosmos,  the  moral  political  speculations 
of  ages,  long,  long  deferr'd,  the  democratic  republican  principle, 
and  the  theory  of  development  and  perfection  by  voluntary  stan- 
dards, and  self-reliance.     Who  else,  indeed,  except  the  United 

(  203  ) 


204  COLLECT. 

States,  in  history,  so  far,  have  accepted  in  unwitting  faith,  and, 
as  we  now  see,  stand,  act  upon,  and  go  security  for,  these  things? 
But  preluding  no  longer,  let  me  strike  the  key-note  of  the  fol- 
lowing strain.  First  premising  that,  though  the  passages  of  it 
have  been  written  at  widely  different  times,  (it  is,  in  fact,  a  col- 
lection of  memoranda,  perhaps  for  future  designers,  comprehend- 
ers,)  and  though  it  may  be  open  to  the  charge  of  one  part  con- 
tradicting another — for  there  are  opposite  sides  to  the  great 
question  of  democracy,  as  to  every  great  question — I  feel  the 
parts  harmoniously  blended  in  my  own  realization  and  convic- 
tions, and  present  them  to  be  read  only  in  such  oneness,  each 
page  and  each  claim  and  assertion  modified  and  temper'd  by  the 
others.  Bear  in  mind,  too,  that  they  are  not  the  result  of  study- 
ing up  in  political  economy,  but  of  the  ordinary  sense,  observ- 
ing, wandering  among  men,  these  States,  these  stirring  years  of 
war  and  peace.  I  will  not  gloss  over  the  appaling  dangers  of 
universal  suffrage  in  the  United  States.  In  fact,  it  is  to  admit 
and  face  these  dangers  I  am  writing.  To  him  or  her  within 
whose  thought  rages  the  battle,  advancing,  retreating,  between 
democracy's  convictions,  aspirations,  and  the  people's  crudeness, 
vice,  caprices,  I  mainly  write  this  essay.  I  shall  use  the  words 
America  and  democracy  as  convertible  terms.  Not  an  ordinary 
one  is  the  issue.  The  United  States  are  destined  either  to  sur- 
mount the  gorgeous  history  of  feudalism,  or  else  prove  the  most 
tremendous  failure  of  time.  Not  the  least  doubtful  am  I  on  any 
prospects  of  their  material  success.  The  triumphant  future  of 
their  business,  geographic  and  productive  departments,  on  larger 
scales  and  in  more  varieties  than  ever,  is  certain.  In  those  re- 
spects the  republic  must  soon  (if  she  does  not  already)  outstrip 
all  examples  hitherto  afforded,  and  dominate  the  world.* 


*  "  From  a  territorial  area  of  less  than  nine  hundred  thousand  square  miles, 
the  Union  has  expanded  into  over  four  millions  and  a  half — fifteen  times  larger 
than  that  of  Great  Britain  and  France  combined — with  a  shore-line,  including 
Alaska,  equal  to  the  entire  circumference  of  the  earth,  and  with  a  domain 
within  these  lines  far  wider  than  that  of  the  Romans  in  their  proudest  days  of 
conquest  and  renown.  With  a  river,  lake,  and  coastwise  commerce  estimated 
at  over  two  thousand  millions  of  dollars  per  year;  with  a  railway  traffic  of 
four  to  six  thousand  millions  per  year,  and  the  annual  domestic  exchanges  of 
the  country  running  up  to  nearly  ten  thousand  millions  per  year;  with  over 
two  thousand  millions  of  dollars  invested  in  manufacturing,  mechanical,  and 
mining  industry ;  with  over  five  hundred  millions  of  acres  of  land  in  actual 
occupancy,  valued,  with  their  appurtenances,  at  over  seven  thousand  millions 
of  dollars,  and  producing  annually  crops  valued  at  over  three  thousand  mil- 
lions of  dollars ;  with  a  realm  which,  if  the  density  of  Belgium's  population 
were  possible,  would  be  vast  enough  to  include  all  the  present  inhabitants  of 
the  world  ;  and  with  equal  rights  guaranteed  to  even  the  poorest  and  humblest 
of  our  forty  millions  of  people — we  can,  with  a  manly  pride  akin  to  that  which 


DEMOCRATIC  VISTAS.  205 

Admitting  all  this,  with  the  priceless  value  of  our  political  in- 
stitutions, general  suffrage,  (and  fully  acknowledging  the  latest, 
widest  opening  of  the  doors,)  I  say  that,  far  deeper  than  these, 
what  finally  and  only  is  to  make  of  our  western  world  a  nation- 
ality superior  to  any  hither  known,  and  outtopping  the  past,  must 
be  vigorous,  yet  unsuspected  Literatures,  perfect  personalities 
and  sociologies,  original,  transcendental,  and  expressing  (what, 
in  highest  sense,  are  not  yet  express'd  at  all,)  democracy  and  the 
modern.  With  these,  and  out  of  these,  I  promulge  new  races  of 
Teachers,  and  of  perfect  Women,  indispensable  to  endow  the 
birth-stock  of  a  New  World.  For  feudalism,  caste,  the  ecclesi- 
astic traditions,  though  palpably  retreating  from  political  insti- 
tutions, still  hold  essentially,  by  their  spirit,  even  in  this  country, 
entire  possession  of  the  more  important  fields,  indeed  the  very 
subsoil,  of  education,  and  of  social  standards  and  literature. 

I  say  that  democracy  can  never  prove  itself  beyond  cavil,  un- 
til it  founds  and  luxuriantly  grows  its  own  forms  of  art,  poems, 
schools,  theology,  displacing  all  that  exists,  or  that  has  been  pro- 
duced anywhere  in  the  past,  under  opposite  influences.  It  is  cu- 
rious to  me  that  while  so  many  voices,  pens,  minds,  in  the  press, 
lecture-rooms,  in  our  Congress,  &c,  are  discussing  intellectual 
topics,  pecuniary  dangers,  legislative  problems,  the  suffrage, 
tariff  and  labor  questions,  and  the  various  business  and  benevo- 
lent needs  of  America,  with  propositions,  remedies,  often  worth 
deep  attention,  there  is  one  need,  a  hiatus  the  profoundest,  that 
no  eye  seems  to  perceive,  no  voice  to  state.  Our  fundamental 
want  to-day  in  the  United  States,  with  closest,  amplest  reference 
to  present  conditions,  and  to  the  future,  is  of  a  class,  and  the 

distinguish'd  the  palmiest  days  of  Rome,  claim,"  &c.,  &c,  &c. —  Vice-Presi- 
dent Coif  ax*  s  Speech,  July  4,  1870. 

Later — London  "  Times,"  (  Weekly,)  June  23,  '82. 
"  The  wonderful  wealth-producing  power  of  the  United  States  defies  and 
sets  at  naught  the  grave  drawbacks  of  a  mischievous  protective  tariff,  and  has 
already  obliterated,  almost  wholly,  the  traces  of  the  greatest  of  modern  civil 
wars.  What  is  especially  remarkable  in  the  present  development  of  American 
energy  and  success  is  its  wide  and  equable  distribution.  North  and  south, 
east  and  west,  on  the  shores  of  the  Atlantic  and  the  Pacific,  along  the  chain 
of  the  great  lakes,  in  the  valley  of  the  Mississippi,  and  on  the  coasts  of  the 
gulf  of  Mexico,  the  creation  of  wealth  and  the  increase  of  population  are 
signally  exhibited.  It  is  quite  true,  as  has  been  shown  by  the  recent  appor- 
tionment of  population  in  the  House  of  Representatives,  that  some^sections 
of  the  Union  have  advanced,  relatively  to  the  rest,  in  an  extraordinary  and 
unexpected  degree.  But  this  does  not  imply  that  the  States  which  have  gain'd 
no  additional  representatives  or  have  actually  lost  some  have  been  stationary 
or  have  receded.  The  fact  is  that  the  present  tide  of  prosperity  has  risen  so 
high  that  it  has  overflow' d  all  barriers,  and  has  fill'd  up  the  back-waters,  and 
establish'd  something  like  an  approach  to  uniform  success." 


206  COLLECT. 

clear  idea  of  a  class,  of  native  authors,  literatuses,  far  different, 
far  higher  in  grade  than  any  yet  known,  sacerdotal,  modern,  fit 
to  cope  with  our  occasions,  lands,  permeating  the  whole  mass  of 
American  mentality,  taste,  belief,  breathing  into  it  a  new  breath 
of  life,  giving  it  decision,  affecting  politics  far  more  than  the 
popular  superficial  suffrage,  with  results  inside  and  underneath 
the  elections  of  Presidents  or  Congresses — radiating,  begetting 
appropriate  teachers,  schools,  manners,  and,  as  its  grandest  result, 
accomplishing,  (what  neither  the  schools  nor  the  churches  and 
their  clergy  have  hitherto  accomplished,  and  without  which  this 
nation  will  no  more  stand,  permanently,  soundly,  than  a  house 
will  stand  without  a  substratum,)  a  religious  and  moral  character 
beneath  the  political  and  productive  and  intellectual  bases  of  the 
States.  For  know  you  not,  dear,  earnest  reader,  that  the  people 
of  our  land  may  all  read  and  write,  and  may  all  possess  the  right 
to  vote — and  yet  the  main  things  may  be  entirely  lacking? — (and 
this  to  suggest  them.) 

View'd,  to-day,  from  a  point  of  view  sufficiently  over-arching, 
the  problem  of  humanity  all  over  the  civilized  world  is  social 
and  religious,  and  is  to  be  finally  met  and  treated  by  literature. 
The  priest  departs,  the  divine  literatus  comes.  Never  was  any- 
thing more  wanted  than,  to-day,  and  here  in  the  States,  the  poet 
of  the  modern  is  wanted,  or  the  great  literatus  of  the  modern. 
At  all  times,  perhaps,  the  central  point  in  any  nation,  and  that 
whence  it  is  itself  really  sway'd  the  most,  and  whence  it  sways 
others,  is  its  national  literature,  especially  its  archetypal  poems. 
Above  all  previous  lands,  a  great  original  literature  is  surely  to 
become  the  justification  and  reliance,  (in  some  respects  the  sole 
reliance,)  of  American  democracy. 

Few  are  aware  how  the  great  literature  penetrates  all,  gives  hue 
to  all,  shapes  aggregates  and  individuals,  and,  after  subtle  ways, 
with  irresistible  power,  constructs,  sustains,  demolishes  at  will. 
Why  tower,  in  reminiscence,  above  all  the  nations  of  the  earth, 
two  special  lands,  petty  in  themselves,  yet  inexpressibly  gigantic, 
beautiful,  columnar?  Immortal  Judah  lives, and  Greece  immor- 
tal lives,  in  a  couple  of  poems. 

Nearer  than  this.  It  is  not  generally  realized,  but  it  is  true, 
as  the  genius  of  Greece,  and  all  the  sociology,  personality,  poli- 
tics and  religion  of  those  wonderful  states,  resided  in  their  liter- 
ature or  esthetics,  that  what  was  afterwards  the  main  support  of 
European  chivalry,  the  feudal,  ecclesiastical,  dynastic  world  over 
there — forming  its  osseous  structure,  holding  it  together  for  hun- 
dreds, thousands  of  years,  preserving  its  flesh  and  bloom,  giving 
it  form,  decision,  rounding  it  out,  and  so  saturating  it  in  the 
conscious  and  unconscious  blood,  breed,  belief,  and  intuitions 


DEMOCRATIC  VISTAS. 


207 


of  men,  that  it  still  prevails  powerful  to  this  day,  in  defiance  of 
the  mighty  changes  of  time — was  its  literature,  permeating  to 
the  very  marrow,  especially  that  major  part,  its  enchanting  songs, 
ballads,  and  poems.* 

To  the  ostent  of  the  senses  and  eyes,  I  know,  the  influences 
which  stamp  the  world's  history  are  wars,  uprisings  or  downfalls 
of  dynasties,  changeful  movements  of  trade,  important  inven- 
tions, navigation,  military  or  civil  governments,  advent  of  pow- 
erful personalities,  conquerors,  &c.  These  of  course  play  their 
part ;  yet,  it  may  be,  a  single  new  thought,  imagination,  ab- 
stract principle,  even  literary  style,  fit  for  the  time,  put  in  shape 
by  some  great  literatus,  and  projected  among  mankind,  may  duly 
cause  changes,  growths,  removals,  greater  than  the  longest  and 
bloodiest  war,  or  the  most  stupendous  merely  political,  dynastic, 
or  commercial  overturn. 

In  short,  as,  though  it  may  not  be  realized,  it  is  strictly  true, 
that  a  few  first-class  poets,  philosophs,  and  authors,  have  substan- 
tially settled  and  given  status  to  the  entire  religion,  education, 
law,  sociology,  &c,  of  the  hitherto  civilized  world,  by  tinging 
and  often  creating  the  atmospheres  out  of  which  they  have  arisen, 
such  also  must  stamp,  and  more  than  ever  stamp,  the  interior  and 
real  democratic  construction  of  this  American  continent,  to-day, 
and  days  to  come.  Remember  also  this  fact  of  difference,  that, 
while  through  the  antique  and  through  the  mediaeval  ages,  highest 
thoughts  and  ideals  realized  themselves,  and  their  expression  made 
its  way  by  other  arts,  as  much  as,  or  even  more  than  by,  technical 
literature,  (not  open  to  the  mass  of  persons,  or  even  to  the  ma- 
jority of  eminent  persons,)  such  literature  in  our  day  and  for 
current  purposes,  is  not  only  more  eligible  than  all  the  other  arts 
put  together,  but  has  become  the  only  general  means  of  morally 
influencing  the  world.  Painting,  sculpture,  and  the  dramatic 
theatre,  it  would  seem,  no  longer  play  an  indispensable  or  even 
important  part  in  the  workings  and  mediumship  of  intellect, 
utility,  or  even  high  esthetics.     Architecture  remains,  doubtless 

*  See,  for  hereditaments,  specimens,  Walter  Scott's  Border  Minstrelsy, 
Percy's  collection,  Ellis's  early  English  Metrical  Romances,  the  European 
continental  poems  of  Walter  of  Aquitania,  and  the  Nibelungen,  of  pagan 
stock,  but  monkish-feudal  redaction ;  the  history  of  the  Troubadours,  by  Fau- 
riel ;  even  the  far-back  cumbrous  old  Hindu  epics,  as  indicating  the  Asian 
eggs  out  of  which  European  chivalry  was  hatch'd;  Ticknor's  chapters  on 
the  Cid,  and  on  the  Spanish  poems  and  poets  of  Calderon's  time.  Then  always, 
and,  of  course,  as  the  superbest  poetic  culmination-expression  of  feudalism, 
the  Shaksperean  dramas,  in  the  attitudes,  dialogue,  characters,  &c,  of  the 
princes,  lords  and  gentlemen,  the  pervading  atmosphere,  the  implied  and  ex- 
press'd  standard  of  manners,  the  high  port  and  proud  stomach,  the  regal  em- 
broidery of  style,  &c. 


208  COLLECT. 

with  capacities,  and  a  real  future.  Then  music,  the  combiner, 
nothing  more  spiritual,  nothing  more  sensuous,  a  god,  yet  com- 
pletely human,  advances,  prevails,  holds  highest  place  ;  supplying 
in  certain  wants  and  quarters  what  nothing  else  could  supply. 
Yet  in  the  civilization  of  to-day  it  is  undeniable  that,  over  all 
the  arts,  literature  dominates,  serves  beyond  all — shapes  the  char- 
acter of  church  and  school — or,  at  any  rate,  is  capable  of  doing 
so.  Including  the  literature  of  science,  its  scope  is  indeed  un- 
parallel'd. 

Before  proceeding  further,  it  were  perhaps  well  to  discriminate 
on  certain  points.  Literature  tills  its  crops  in  many  fields,  and 
some  may  flourish,  while  others  lag.  What  I  say  in  these  Vistas 
has  its  main  bearing  on  imaginative  literature,  especially  poetry, 
the  stock  of  all.  In  the  department  of  science,  and  the  specialty 
of  journalism,  there  appear,  in  these  States,  promises,  perhaps  ful- 
filments, of  highest  earnestness,  reality,  and  life.  These,  of  course, 
are  modern.  But  in  the  region  of  imaginative,  spinal  and  essen- 
tial attributes,  something  equivalent  to  creation  is,  for  our  age  and 
lands,  imperatively  demanded.  For  not  only  is  it  not  enough 
that  the  new  blood,  new  frame  of  democracy  shall  be  vivified  and 
held  together  merely  by  political  means,  superficial  suffrage,  legis- 
lation, &c,  but  it  is  clear  to  me  that,  unless  it  goes  deeper,  gets 
at  least  as  firm  and  as  warm  a  hold  in  men's  hearts,  emotions  and 
belief,  as,  in  their  days,  feudalism  or  ecclesiasticism/and  inaugu- 
rates its  own  perennial  sources,  welling  from  the  centre  forever, 
its  strength  will  be  defective,  its  growth  doubtful,  and  its  main 
charm  wanting.  I  suggest,  therefore,  the  possibility,  should  some 
two  or  three  really  original  American  poets,  (perhaps  artists  or 
lecturers,)  arise,  mounting  the  horizon  like  planets,  stars  of  the 
first  magnitude,  that,  from  their  eminence,  fusing  contributions, 
races,  far  localities,  &c,  together,  they  would  give  more  compac- 
tion and  more  moral  identity,  (the  quality  to-day  most  needed,) 
to  these  States,  than  all  its  Constitutions,  legislative  and  judicial 
ties,  and  all  its  hitherto  political,  warlike,  or  materialistic  expe- 
riences. As,  for  instance,  there  could  hardly  happen  anything 
that  would  more  serve  the  States,  with  all  their  variety  of  origins, 
their  diverse  climes,  cities^standards,  &c,  than  possessing  an  ag- 
gregate of  heroes,  characters,  exploits,  sufferings,  prosperity  or 
misfortune,  glory  or  disgrace,  common  to  all,  typical  of  all — no 
less,  but  even  greater  would  it  be  to  possess  the  aggregation  of  a 
cluster  of  mighty  poets,  artists,  teachers,  fit  for  us,  national  ex- 
presses, comprehending  and  effusing  for  the  men  and  women  of 
the  States,  what  is  universal,  native,  common  to  all,  inland  and 
seaboard,  northern  and  southern.  The  historians  say  of  ancient 
Greece,  with  her  ever-jealous  autonomies,  cities,  and  states,  that 


DEMOCRATIC  VISTA 


209 


the  only  positive  unity  she  ever  own'd  or  receiv'd,  was  the  sad 
unity  of  a  common  subjection,  at  the  last,  to  foreign  conquerors. 
Subjection,  aggregation  of  that  sort,  is  impossible  to  America ; 
but  the  fear  of  conflicting  and  irreconcilable  interiors,  and  the 
lack  of  a  common  skeleton,  knitting  all  close,  continually  haunts 
me.  Or,  if  it  does  not,  nothing  is  plainer  than  the  need,  a  long 
period  to  come,  of  a  fusion  of  the  States  into  the  only  reliable 
identity,  the  moral  and  artistic  one.  For,  I  say,  the  true  nation- 
ality of  the  States,  the  genuine  union,  when  we  come  to  a  mortal 
crisis,  is,  and  is  to  be,  after  all,  neither  the  written  law,  nor,  (as 
is  generally  supposed,)  either  self-interest,  or  common  pecuniary 
or  material  objects — but  the  fervid  and  tremendous  Idea,  melt- 
ing everything  else  with  resistless  heat,  and  solving  all  lesser  and 
definite  distinctions  in  vast,  indefinite,  spiritual,  emotional  power. 

It  may  be  claim'd,  (and  I  admit  the  weight  of  the  claim,)  that 
common  and  general  worldly  prosperity,  and  a  populace  well-to- 
do,  and  with  all  life's  material  comforts,  is  the  main  thing,  and 
is  enough.  It  may  be  argued  that  our  republic  is,  in  perform- 
ance, really  enacting  to-day  the  grandest  arts,  poems,  &c,  by 
beating  up  the  wilderness  into  fertile  farms,  and  in  her  railroads, 
ships,  machinery,  &c.  And  it  may  be  ask'd,  Are  these  not  bet- 
ter, indeed,  for  America,  than  any  utterances  even  of  greatest 
rhapsode,  artist,  or  literatus? 

I  too  hail  those  achievements  with  pride  and  joy :  then  answer 
that  the  soul  of  man  will  not  with  such  only — nay,  not  with  such 
at  all — be  finally  satisfied ;  but  needs  what,  (standing  on  these 
and  on  all  things,  as  the  feet  stand  on  the  ground,)  is  address'd 
to  the  loftiest,  to  itself  alone. 

Out  of  such  considerations,  such  truths,  arises  for  treatment  in 
these  Vistas  the  important  question  of  character,  of  an  American 
stock-personality,  with  literatures  and  arts  for  outlets  and  return- 
expressions,  and,  of  course,  to  correspond,  within  outlines  com- 
mon to  all.  To  these,  the  main  affair,  the  thinkers  of  the  United 
States,  in  general  so  acute,  have. either  given  feeblest  attention, 
or  have  remain'd,  and  remain,  in  a  state  of  somnolence. 

For  my  part,  I  would  alarm  and  caution  even  the  political  and 
business  reader,  and  to  the  utmost  extent,  against  the  prevailing 
delusion  that  the  establishment  of  free  political  institutions,  and 
plentiful  intellectual  smartness,  with  general  good  order,  physi- 
cal plenty,  industry,  &c,  (desirable  and  precious  advantages  as 
they  all  are,)  do,  of  themselves,  determine  and  yield  to  our  ex- 
periment of  democracy  the  fruitage  of  success.  With  such  ad- 
vantages at  present  fully,  or  almost  fully,  possess'd — the  Union 
just  issued,  victorious,  from  the  struggle  with  the  only  foes  it 

18 


210  COLLECT. 

need  ever  fear,  namely,  those  within  itself,  the  interior  ones,) 
and  with  unprecedented  materialistic  advancement — society,  in 
these  States,  is  canker'd,  crude,  superstitious,  and  rotten.  Politi- 
cal, or  law-made  society  is,  and  private,  or  voluntary  society,  is 
also.  In  any  vigor,  the  element  of  the  moral  conscience,  the 
most  important,  the  verteber  to  State  or  man,  seems  to  me  either 
entirely  lacking,  or  seriously  enfeebled  or  ungrown. 

I  say  we  had  best  look  our  times  and  lands  searchingly  in  the 
face,  like  a  physician  diagnosing  some  deep  disease.  Never  was 
there,  perhaps,  more  hollowness  at  heart  than  at  present,  and  here 
in  the  United  States.  Genuine  belief  seems  to  have  left  us.  The 
underlying  principles  of  the  States  are  not  honestly  believ'd  in, 
(for  all  this  hectic  glow,  and  these  melo-dramatic  screamings,) 
nor  is  humanity  itself  believ'd  in.  What  penetrating  eye  does 
not  everywhere  see  through  the  mask  ?  The  spectacle  is  appaling. 
We  live  in  an  atmosphere  of  hypocrisy  throughout.  The  men  be- 
lieve not  in  the  women,  nor  the  women  in  the  men.  A  scornful 
superciliousness  rules  in  literature.  The  aim  of  all  the  litterateurs 
is  to  find  something  to  make  fun  of.  A  lot  of  churches,  sects,  &c, 
the  most  dismal  phantasms  I  know,  usurp  the  name  of  religion. 
Conversation  is  a  mass  of  badinage.  From  deceit  in  the  spirit, 
the  mother  of  all  false  deeds,  the  offspring  is  already  incalcula- 
ble. An  acute  and  candid  person,  in  the  revenue  department  in 
Washington,  who  is  led  by  the  course  of  his  employment  to  reg- 
ularly visit  the  cities,  north,  south  and  west,  to  investigate  frauds, 
has  talk'd  much  with  me  about  his  discoveries.  The  depravity 
of  the  business  classes  of  our  country  is  not  less  than  has  been 
supposed,  but  infinitely  greater.  The  official  services  of  America, 
national,  state,  and  municipal,  in  all  their  branches  and  depart- 
ments, except  the  judiciary,  are  saturated  in  corruption,  bribery, 
falsehood,  maladministration  ;  and  the  judiciary  is  tainted.  The 
great  cities  reek  with  respectable  as  much  as  non- respectable  rob- 
bery and  scoundrelism.  In  fashionable  life,  flippancy,  tepid 
amours,  weak  infidelism,  small  aims,  or  no  aims  at  all,  only  to 
kill  time.  In  business,  (this  all-devouring  modern  word,  busi- 
ness,) the  one  sole  object  is,  by  any  means,  pecuniary  gain.  The 
magician's  serpent  in  the  fable  ate  up  all  the  other  serpents ;  and. 
money-making  is  our  magician's  serpent,  remaining  to-day  sole 
master  of  the  field.  The  best  class  we  show,  is  but  a  mob  of 
fashionably  dress'd  speculators  and  vulgarians.  True,  indeed, 
behind  this  fantastic  farce,  enacted  on  the  visible  stage  of  society, 
solid  things  and  stupendous  labors  are  to  be  discover'd,  existing 
crudely  and  going  on  in  the  background,  to  advance  and  tell 
themselves  in  time.  Yet  the  truths  are  none  the  less  terrible.  I 
say  that  our  New  World  democracy,  however  great  a  success  in 


DEMOCRATIC  VISTAS.  21 1 

uplifting  the  masses  out  of  their  sloughs,  in  materialistic  develop- 
ment, products,  and  in  a  certain  highly-deceptive  superficial 
popular  intellectuality,  is,  so  far,  an  almost  complete  failure  in 
its  social  aspects,  and  in  really  grand  religious,  moral,  literary, 
and  esthetic  results.  In  vain  do  we  march  with  unprecedented 
strides  to  empire  so  colossal,  outvying  the  antique,  beyond  Alex- 
ander's, beyond  the  proudest  sway  of  Rome.  In  vain  have  we 
annex' d  Texas,  California,  Alaska,  and  reach  north  for  Canada 
and  south  for  Cuba.  It  is  as  if  we  were  somehow  being  endow'd 
with  a  vast  and  more  and  more  thoroughly-appointed  body,  and 
then  left  with  little  or  no  soul. 

Let  me  illustrate  further,  as  I  write,  with  current  observations, 
localities,  &c.  The  subject  is  important,  and  will  bear  repeti- 
tion. After  an  absence,  I  am  now  again  (September,  1870)  in 
New  York  city  and  Brooklyn,  on  a  few  weeks'  vacation.  The 
splendor,  picturesqueness,  and  oceanic  amplitude  and  rush  of 
these  great  cities,  the  unsurpass'd  situation,  rivers  and  bay, 
sparkling  sea-tides,  costly  and  lofty  new  buildings,  facades  of 
marble  and  iron,  of  original  grandeur  and  elegance  of  design, 
with  the  masses  of  gay  color,  the  preponderance  of  white  and 
blue,  the  flags  flying,  the  endless  ships,  the  tumultuous  streets, 
Broadway,  the  heavy,  low,  musical  roar,  hardly  ever  intermitted, 
even  at  night ;  the  jobbers'  houses,  the  rich  shops,  the  wharves, 
the  great  Central  Park,  and  the  Brooklyn  Park  of  hills,  (as  I 
wander  among  them  this  beautiful  fall  weather,  musing,  watch- 
ing, absorbing) — the  assemblages  of  the  citizens  in  their  groups, 
conversations,  trades,  evening  amusements,  or  along  the  by-quar- 
ters— these,  I  say,  and  the  like  of  these,  completely  satisfy  my 
senses  of  power,  fulness,  motion,  &c,  and  give  me,  through 
such  senses  and  appetites,  and  through  my  esthetic  conscience, 
a  continued  exaltation  and  absolute  fulfilment.  Always  and 
more  and  more,  as  I  cross  the  East  and  North  rivers,  the 
ferries,  or  with  the  pilots  in  their  pilot-houses,  or  pass  an  hour  in 
Wall  street,  or  the  gold  exchange,  I  realize,  (if  we  must  admit 
such  partialisms,)  that  not  Nature  alone  is  great  in  her  fields  of 
freedom  and  the  open  air,  in  her  storms,  the  shows  of  night  and 
day,  the  mountains,  forests,  seas — but  in  the  artificial,  the  work 
of  man  too  is  equally  great — in  this  profusion  of  teeming  hu- 
manity— in  these  ingenuities,  streets,  goods,  houses,  ships — these 
hurrying,  feverish,  electric  crowds  of  men,  their  complicated 
business  genius,  (not  least  among  the  geniuses,)  and  all  this 
mighty,  many-threaded  wealth  and  industry  concentrated  here. 

But  sternly  discarding,  shutting  our  eyes  to  the  glow  and  gran- 
deur of  the  general  superficial  effect,  coming  down  to  what  is  of 
the  only  real  importance,  Personalities,  and  examining  minutely, 


212  COLLECT. 

we  question,  we  ask,  Are  there,  indeed,  men  here  worthy  the 
name  ?  Are  there  athletes  ?  Are  there  perfect  women,  to  match 
the  generous  material  luxuriance  ?  Is  there  a  pervading  atmosphere 
of  beautiful  manners  ?  Are  there  crops  of  fine  youths,  and  majestic 
old  persons?  Are  there  arts  worthy  freedom  and  a  rich  peo- 
ple? Is  there  a  great  moral  and  religious  civilization — the  only 
justification  of  a  great  material  one?  Confess  that  to  severe 
eyes,  using  the  moral  microscope  upon  humanity,  a  sort  of  dry 
and  flat  Sahara  appears,  these  cities,  crowded  with  petty  gro- 
tesques, malformations,  phantoms,  playing  meaningless  antics. 
Confess  that  everywhere,  in  shop,  street,  church,  theatre,  bar- 
room, official  chair,  are  pervading  flippancy  and  vulgarity,  low 
cunning,  infidelity — everywhere  the  youth  puny,  impudent,  fop- 
pish, prematurely  ripe — everywhere  an  abnormal  libidinousness, 
unhealthy  forms,  male,  female,  painted,  padded,  dyed,  chignon'd, 
muddy  complexions,  bad  blood,  the  capacity  for  good  mother- 
hood deceasing  or  deceas'd,  shallow  notions  of  beauty,  with  a 
range  of  manners,  or  rather  lack  of  manners,  (considering  the 
advantages  enjoy'd,)  probably  the  meanest  to  be  seen  in  the 
world.* 

Of  all  this,  and  these  lamentable  conditions,  to  breathe  into 
them  the  breath  recuperative  of  sane  and  heroic  life,  I  say  a  new 
founded  literature,  not  merely  to  copy  and  reflect  existing  sur- 
faces, or  pander  to  what  is  called  taste — not  only  to  amuse,  pass 
away  time,  celebrate  the  beautiful,  the  refined,  the  past,  or  exhibit 
technical,  rhythmic,  or  grammatical  dexterity — but  a  literature 
underlying  life,  religious,  consistent  with  science,  handling  the 
elements  and  forces  with  competent  power,  teaching  and  training 
men — and,  as  perhaps  the  most  precious  of  its  results,  achieving 
the  entire  redemption  of  woman  out  of  these  incredible  holds 
and  webs  of  silliness,  millinery,  and  every  kind  of  dyspeptic  de- 
pletion— and  thus  insuring  to  the  States  a  strong  and  sweet  Fe- 
male Race,  a  race  of  perfect  Mothers — is  what  is  needed. 

*  Of  these  rapidly-sketch'd  hiatuses,  the  two  which  seem  to  me  most  se- 
rious are,  for  one,  the  condition,  absence,  or  perhaps  the  singular  abeyance, 
of  moral  conscientious  fibre  all  through  American  society ;  and,  for  another, 
the  appaling  depletion  of  women  in  their  powers  of  sane  athletic  maternity, 
their  crowning  attribute,  and  ever  making  the  woman,  in  loftiest  spheres,  su- 
perior to  the  man. 

I  have  sometimes  thought,  indeed,  that  the  sole  avenue  and  means  of  a  re- 
constructed sociology  depended,  primarily,  on  a  new  birth,  elevation,  expan- 
sion, invigoration  of  woman,  affording,  for  races  to  come,  (as  the  conditions 
that  antedate  birth  are  indispensable,)  a  perfect  motherhood.  Great,  great, 
indeed,  far  greater  than  they  know,  is  the  sphere  of  women.  But  doubtless 
the  question  of  such  new  sociology  all  goes  together,  includes  many  varied 
and  complex  influences  and  premises,  and  the  man  as  well  as  the  woman,  and 
the  woman  as  well  as  the  man. 


DEMOCRATIC  VISTAS. 


213 


And  now,  in  the  full  conception  of  these  facts  and  points,  and 
all  that  they  infer,  pro  and  con — with  yet  unshaken  faith  in  the 
elements  of  the  American  masses,  the  composites,  of  both  sexes, 
and  even  consider'd  as  individuals — and  ever  recognizing  in  them 
the  broadest  bases  of  the  best  literary  and  esthetic  appreciation 
— I  proceed  with  my  speculations,  Vistas. 

First,  let  us  see  what  we  can  make  out  of  a  brief,  general,  sen- 
timental consideration  of  political  democracy,  and  whence  it 
has  arisen,  with  regard  to  some  of  its  current  features,  as  an  ag- 
gregate, and  as  the  basic  structure  of  our  future  literature  and 
authorship.  We  shall,  it  is  true,  quickly  and  continually  find  the 
origin-idea  of  the  singleness  of  man,  individualism,  asserting  it- 
self, and  cropping  forth,  even  from  the  opposite  ideas.  But  the 
mass,  or  lump  character,  for  imperative  reasons,  is  to  be  ever 
carefully  weigh'd,  borne  in  mind,  and  provided  for.  Only  from- 
it,  and  from  its  proper  regulation  and  potency,  comes  the  other, 
comes  the  chance  of  individualism.  The  two  are  contradictory, 
but  our  task  is  to  reconcile  them.* 

The  political  history  of  the  past  may  be  summ'd  up  as  having 
grown  out  of  what  underlies  the  words,  order,  safety,  caste,  and 
especially  out  of  the  need  of  some  prompt  deciding  authority, 
and  of  cohesion  at  all  cost.  Leaping  time,  we  come  to  the  period 
within  the  memory  of  people  now  living,  when,  as  from  some 
lair  where  they  had  slumber' d  long,  accumulating  wrath,  sprang 
up  and  are  yet  active,  (1790,  and  on  even  to  the  present,  1870,) 
those  noisy  eructations,  destructive  iconoclasms,  a  fierce  sense  of 
wrongs,  amid  which  moves  the  form,  well  known  in  modern 
history,  in  the  old  world,  stain'd  with  much  blood,  and  mark'd 
by  savage  reactionary  clamors  and  demands.  These  bear,  mostly, 
as  on  one  inclosing  point  of  need. 

For  after  the  rest  is  said — after  the  many  time-honor' d  and 
really  true  things  for  subordination,  experience,  rights  of  prop- 
erty, &c,  have  been  listen' d  to  and  acquiesced  in — after  the  val- 
uable and  well-settled  statement  of  our  duties  and  relations  in 
society  is  thoroughly  conn'd  over  and  exhausted — it  remains  to 
bring  forward  and  modify  everything  else  with  the  idea  of  that 
Something  a  man  is,  (last  precious  consolation  of  the  drudging 

*  The  question  hinted  here  is  one  which  time  only  can  answer.  Must  not 
the  virtue  of  modern  Individualism,  continually  enlarging,  usurping  all,  se- 
riously affect,  perhaps  keep  down  entirely,  in  America,  the  like  of  the  ancient 
virtue  of  Patriotism,  the  fervid  and  absorbing  love  of  general  country?  I 
have  no  doubt  myself  that  the  two  will  merge,  and  will  mutually  profit  and 
brace  each  other,  and  that  from  them  a  greater  product,  a  third,  will  arise. 
But  I  feel  that  at  present  they  and  their  oppositions  form  a  serious  problem 
and  paradox  in  the  United  States. 


214  COLLECT. 

poor,)  standing  apart  from  all  else,  divine  in  his  own  right,  and 
a  woman  in  hers,  sole  and  untouchable  by  any  canons  of  au- 
thority, or  any  rule  derived  from  precedent,  state-safety,  the  acts 
of  legislatures,  or  even  from  what  is  called  religion,  modesty,  or 
art.  The  radiation  of  this  truth  is  the  key  of  the  most  significant 
doings  of  our  immediately  preceding  three  centuries,  and  has 
been  the  political  genesis  and  life  of  America.  Advancing  visi- 
bly, it  still  more  advances  invisibly.  Underneath  the  fluctuations 
of  the  expressions  of  society,  as  well  as  the  movements  of  the 
politics  of  the  leading  nations  of  the  world,  we  see  steadily  press- 
ing ahead  and  strengthening  itself,  even  in  the  midst  of  immense 
tendencies  toward  aggregation,  this  image  of  completeness  in 
separatism,  of  individual  personal  dignity,  of  a  single  person, 
either  male  or  female,  characterized  in  the  main,  not  from  ex- 
trinsic acquirements  or  position,  but  in  the  pride  of  himself  or 
herself  alone ;  and,  as  an  eventual  conclusion  and  summing  up, 
(or  else  the  entire  scheme  of  things  is  aimless,  a  cheat,  a  crash,) 
the  simple  idea  that  the  last,  best  dependence  is  to  be  upon  hu- 
manity itself,  and  its  own  inherent,  normal,  full-grown  qualities, 
without  any  superstitious  support  whatever.  This  idea  of  per- 
fect individualism  it  is  indeed  that  deepest  tinges  and  gives  char- 
acter to  the  idea  of  the  aggregate.  For  it  is  mainly  or  alto- 
gether to  serve  independent  separatism  that  we  favor  a  strong 
generalization,  consolidation.  As  it  is  to  give  the  best  vitality 
and  freedom  to  the  rights  of  the  States,  (every  bit  as  important 
as  the  right  of  nationality,  the  union,)  that  we  insist  on  the  iden- 
tity of  the  Union  at  all  hazards. 

The  purpose  of  democracy — supplanting  old  belief  in  the 
necessary  absoluteness  of  establish'd  dynastic  rulership,  temporal, 
ecclesiastical,  and  scholastic,  as  furnishing  the  only  security 
against  chaos,  crime,  and  ignorance — is,  through  many  transmi- 
grations, and  amid  endless  ridicules,  arguments,  and  ostensible 
failures,  to  illustrate,  at  all  hazards,  this  doctrine  or  theory  that 
man,  properly  train'd  in  sanest,  highest  freedom,  may  and  must 
become  a  law,  and  series  of  laws,  unto  himself,  surrounding  and 
providing  for,  not  only  his  own  personal  control,  but  all  his  re- 
lations to  other  individuals,  and  to  the  State ;  and  that,  while 
other  theories,  as  in  the  past  histories  of  nations,  have  proved 
wise  enough,  and  indispensable  perhaps  for  their  conditions,  this, 
as  matters  now  stand  in  our  civilized  world,  is  the  only  scheme 
worth  working  from,  as  warranting  results  like  those  of  Nature's 
laws,  reliable,  when  once  establish'd,  to  carry  on  themselves. 

The  argument  of  the  matter  is  extensive,  and,  we  admit,  by  no 
means  all  on  one  side.  What  we  shall  offer  will  be  far,  far  from 
sufficient.     But  while  leaving  unsaid  much  that  should  properly 


DEMOCRATIC  VISTAS. 


"5 


even  prepare  the  way  for  the  treatment  of  this  many-sided  ques- 
tion of  political  liberty,  equality,  or  republicanism — leaving  the 
whole  history  and  consideration  of  the  feudal  plan  and  its  prod- 
ucts, embodying  humanity,  its  politics  and  civilization,  through 
the  retrospect  of  past  time,  (which  plan  and  products,  indeed, 
make  up  all  of  the  past,  and  a  large  part  of  the  present) — 
leaving  unanswer'd,  at  least  by  any  specific  and  local  answer, 
many  a  well-wrought  argument  and  instance,  and  many  a  con- 
scientious declamatory  cry  and  warning — as,  very  lately,  from 
an  eminent  and  venerable  person  abroad* — things,  problems,  full 
of  doubt,  dread,  suspense,  (not  new  to  me,  but  old  occupiers  of 
many  an  anxious  hour  in  city's  din,  or  night's  silence,)  we  still 
may  give  a  page  or  so,  whose  drift  is  opportune.  Time  alone 
can  finally  answer  these  things.  But  as  a  substitute  in  passing, 
let  us,  even  if  fragmentarily,  throw  forth  a  short  direct  or  indirect 
suggestion  of  the  premises  of  that  other  plan,  in  the  new  spirit, 
under  the  new  forms,  started  here  in  our  America. 

As  to  the  political  section  of  Democracy,  which  introduces 
and  breaks  ground  for  further  and  vaster  sections,  few  probably 
are  the  minds,  even  in  these  republican  States,  that  fully  compre- 
hend the  aptness  of  that  phrase,  "the  government  of  the 
People,  by  the  People,  for  the  People,"  which  we  inherit 
from  the  lips  of  Abraham  Lincoln ;  a  formula  whose  verbal  shape 
is  homely  wit,  but  whose  scope  includes  both  the  totality  and  all 
minutiae  of  the  lesson. 

The  People  !  Like  our  huge  earth  itself,  which,  to  ordinary  scan- 
sion, is  full  of  vulgar  contradictions  and  offence,  man,  viewed  in 
the  lump,  displeases,  and  is  a  constant  puzzle  and  affront  to  the 
merely  educated  classes.  The  rare,  cosmical,  artist-mind,  lit 
with  the  Infinite,  alone  confronts  his  manifold  and  oceanic 
qualities — but  taste,  intelligence  and  culture,  (so-called,)  have 
been  against  the  masses,  and  remain  so.  There  is  plenty  of  gla- 
mour about  the  most  damnable  crimes  and  hoggish  meannesses, 
special  and  general,  of  the  feudal  and  dynastic  world  over  there, 
with  its  personnel  of  lords  and  queens  and  courts,  so  well-dress'd 

*  "  Shooting  Niagara." — I  was  at  first  roused  to  much  anger  and  abuse 
by  this  essay  from  Mr.  Carlyle,  so  insulting  to  the  theory  of  America — but 
happening  to  think  afterwards  how  I  had  more  than  once  been  in  the  like 
mood,  during  which  his  essay  was  evidently  cast,  and  seen  persons  and  things 
in  the  same  light,  (indeed  some  might  say  there  are  signs  of  the  same  feeling 
in  these  Vistas) — I  have  since  read  it  again,  not  only  as  a  study,  expressing  as  it 
does  certain  judgments  from  the  highest  feudal  point  of  view,  but  have  read 
it  with  respect  as  coming  from  an  earnest  soul,  and  as  contributing  certain 
sharp-cutting  metallic  grains,  which,  if  not  gold  or  silver,  may  be  good  hard, 
honest  iron. 


216  COLLECT. 

and  so  handsome.     But  the  People  are  urigrammatical,  untidy, 
and  their  sins  gaunt  and  ill-bred. 

Literature,  strictly  consider'd,  has  never  recognized  the  People, 
and,  whatever  may  be  said,  does  not  to-day.  Speaking  generally, 
the  tendencies  of  literature,  as  hitherto  pursued,  have  been  to 
make  mostly  critical  and  querulous  men.  It  seems  as  if,  so  far, 
there  were  some  natural  repugnance  between  a  literary  and  pro- 
fessional life,  and  the  rude  rank  spirit  of  the  democracies.  There 
is,  in  later  literature,  a  treatment  of  benevolence,  a  charity  busi- 
ness, rife  enough  it  is  true ;  but  I  know  nothing  more  rare,  even 
in  this  country,  than  a  fit  scientific  estimate  and  reverent  appre- 
ciation of  the  People — of  their  measureless  wealth  of  latent  power 
and  capacity,  their  vast,  artistic  contrasts  of  lights  and  shades — 
with,  in  America,  their  entire  reliability  in  emergencies,  and  a 
certain  breadth  of  historic  grandeur,  of  peace  or  war,  far  surpass- 
ing all  the  vaunted  samples  of  book-heroes,  or  any  haut  ton 
coteries,  in  all  the  records  of  the  world. 

The  movements  of  the  late  secession  war,  and  their  results,  to 
any  sense  that  studies  well  and  comprehends  them,  show  that 
popular  democracy,  whatever  its  faults  and  dangers,  practically 
justifies  itself  beyond  the  proudest  claims  and  wildest  hopes  of  its 
enthusiasts.  Probably  no  future  age  can  know,  but  I  well  know, 
how  the  gist  of  this  fiercest  and  most  resolute  of  the  world's  war- 
like contentions  resided  exclusively  in  the  unnamed,  unknown 
rank  and  file ;  and  how  the  brunt  of  its  labor  of  death  was,  to  all 
essential  purposes,  volunteer'd.  The  People,  of  their  own  choice, 
fighting,  dying  for  their  own  idea,  insolently  attack'd  by  the 
secession-slave-power,  and  its  very  existence  imperil'd.  Descend- 
ing to  detail,  entering  any  of  the  armies,  and  mixing  with  the 
private  soldiers,  we  see  and  have  seen  august  spectacles.  We  have 
seen  the  alacrity  with  which  the  American-born  populace,  the 
peaceablest  and  most  good-natured  race  in  the  world,  and  trie  most 
personally  independent  and  intelligent,  and  the  least  fitted  to 
submit  to  the  irksomeness  and  exasperation  of  regimental  disci- 
pline, sprang,  at  the  first  tap  of  the  drum,  to  arms — not  for  gain, 
nor  even  glory,  nor  to  repel  invasion — but  for  an  emblem,  a  mere 
abstraction — for  the  life,  the  safety  of  the  flag.  We  have  seen  the 
unequal' d  docility  and  obedience  of  these  soldiers.  We  have  seen 
them  tried  long  and  long  by  hopelessness,  mismanagement,  and 
by  defeat ;  have  seen  the  incredible  slaughter  toward  or  through 
which  the  armies,  (as  at  first  Fredericksburg,  and  afterward  at  the 
Wilderness,)  still  unhesitatingly  obey'd  orders  to  advance.  We 
have  seen  them  in  trench,  or  crouching  behind  breastwork,  or 
tramping  in  deep  mud,  or  amid  pouring  rain  or  thick-falling  snow, 
or  under  forced  marches  in  hottest  summer  (as  on  the  road  to  get 


DEMO CRA  TIC  VISTAS.  2 1 7 

to  Gettysburg) — vast  suffocating  swarms,  divisions,  corps,  with 
every  single  man  so  grimed  and  black  with  sweat  and  dust,  his 
own  mother  would  not  have  known  him — his  clothes  all  dirty, 
stain' d  and  torn,  with  sour,  accumulated  sweat  for  perfume — many 
a  comrade,  perhaps  a  brother,  sun-struck,  staggering  out,  dying, 
by  the  roadside,  of  exhaustion — yet  the  great  bulk  bearing  steadily 
on,  cheery  enough,  hollow-bellied  from  hunger,  but  sinewy  with 
unconquerable  resolution. 

We  have  seen  this  race  proved  by  wholesale  by  drearier,  yet 
more  fearful  tests — the  wound,  the  amputation,  the  shatter'd  face 
or  limb,  the  slow  hot  fever,  long  impatient  anchorage  in  bed, 
and  all  the  forms  of  maiming,  operation  and  disease.  Alas  ! 
America  have  we  seen,  though  only  in  her  early  youth,  already  to 
hospital  brought.  There  have  we  watch'd  these  soldiers,  many 
of  them  only  boys  in  years — mark'd  their  decorum,  their  religious 
nature  and  fortitude,  and  their  sweet  affection.  Wholesale,  truly. 
For  at  the  front,  and  through  the  camps,  in  countless  tents,  stood 
the  regimental,  brigade  and  division  hospitals  ;  while  everywhere 
amid  the  land,  in  or  near  cities,  rose  clusters  of  huge,  white- 
washed, crowded,  one-story  wooden  barracks;  and  there  ruled 
agony  with  bitter  scourge,  yet  seldom  brought  a  cry;  and  there 
stalk'd  death  by  day  and  night  along  the  narrow  aisles  between 
the  rows  of  cots,  or  by  the  blankets  on  the  ground,  and  touch'd 
lightly  many  a  poor  sufferer,  often  with  blessed,  welcome  touch. 

I  know  not  whether  I  shall  be  understood,  but  I  realize  that  it 
is  finally  from  what  I  learn'd  personally  mixing  in  such  scenes 
that  I  am  now  penning  these  pages.  One  night  in  the  gloomiest 
period  of  the  war,  in  the  Patent  office  hospital  in  Washington 
city,  as  I  stood  by  the  bedside  of  a  Pennsylvania  soldier,  who 
lay,  conscious  of  quick  approaching  death,  yet  perfectly  calm, 
and  with  noble,  spiritual  manner,  the  veteran  surgeon,  turning 
aside,  said  to  me,  that  though  he  had  witness'd  many,  many 
deaths  of  soldiers,  and  had  been  a  worker  at  Bull  Run,  Antietam, 
Fredericksburg,  &c,  he  had  not  seen  yet  the  first  case  of  man  or 
boy  that  met  the  approach  of  dissolution  with  cowardly  qualms 
or  terror.     My  own  observation  fully  bears  out  the  remark. 

What  have  we  here,  if  not,  towering  above  all  talk*and  argu- 
ment, the  plentifully-supplied,  last-needed  proof  of  democracy, 
in  its  personalities?  Curiously  enough,  too,  the  proof  on  this 
point  comes,  I  should  say,  every  bit  as  much  from  the  south,  as 
from  the  north.  Although  I  have  spoken  only  of  the  latter,  yet 
I  deliberately  include  all.  Grand,  common  stock !  to  me  the 
accomplished  and  convincing  growth,  prophetic  of  the  future; 
proof  undeniable  to  sharpest  sense,  of  perfect  beauty,  tenderness 
and  pluck,  that  never  feudal  lord,  nor  Greek,  nor  Roman  breed, 

19 


2i8  COLLECT. 

yet  rival'd.  Let  no  tongue  ever  speak  in  disparagement  of  the 
American  races,  north  or  south,  to  one  who  has  been  through  the 
war  in  the  great  army  hospitals. 

Meantime,  general  humanity,  (for  to  that  we  return,  as,  for  our 
purposes,  what  it  really  is,  to  bear  in  mind,)  has  always,  in  every 
department,  been  full  of  perverse  maleficence,  and  is  so  yet.  In 
downcast  hours  the  soul  thinks  it  always  will  be — but  soon  re- 
covers from  such  sickly  moods.  I  myself  see  clearly  enough  the 
crude,  defective  streaks  in  all  the  strata  of  the  common  people ; 
the  specimens  and  vast  collections  of  the  ignorant,  the  credulous, 
the  unfit  and  uncouth,  the  incapable,  and  the  very  low  and  poor. 
The  eminent  person  just  mention'd  sneeringly  asks  whether  we 
expect  to  elevate  and  improve  a  nation's  politics  by  absorbing 
such  morbid  collections  and  qualities  therein.  The  point  is  a 
formidable  one,  and  there  will  doubtless  always  be  numbers  of 
solid  and  reflective  citizens  who  will  never  get  over  it.  Our  an- 
swer is  general,  and  is  involved  in  the  scope  and  letter  of  this 
essay.  We  believe  the  ulterior  object  of  political  and  all  other 
government,  (having,  of  course,  provided  for  the  police,  the  safety 
of  life,  property,  and  for  the  basic  statute  and  common  law,  and 
their  administration,  always  first  in  order,)  to  be  among  the  rest, 
not  merely  to  rule,  to  repress  disorder,  &c,  but  to  develop,  to 
open  up  to  cultivation,  to  encourage  the  possibilities  of  all  be- 
neficent and  manly  outcroppage,  and  of  that  aspiration  for  inde- 
pendence, and  the  pride  and  self-respect  latent  in  all  characters. 
(Or,  if  there  be  exceptions,  we  cannot,  fixing  our  eyes  on  them 
alone,  make  theirs  the  rule  for  all.) 

I  say  the  mission  of  government,  henceforth,  in  civilized  lands., 
is  not  repression  alone,  and  not  authority  alone,  not  even  of  law, 
nor  by  that  favorite  standard  of  the  eminent  writer,  the  rule  of 
the  best  men,  the  born  heroes  and  captains  of  the  race,  (as  if 
such  ever,  or  one  time  out  of  a  hundred,  get  into  the  big  places, 
elective  or  dynastic) — but  higher  than  the  highest  arbitrary  rule, 
to  train  communities  through  all  their  grades,  beginning  with  in- 
dividuals and  ending  there  again,  to  rule  themselves.  What 
Christ  appear'd  for  in  the  moral-spiritual  field  for  human-kind, 
namely,  that  in  respect  to  the  absolute  soul,  there  is  in  the  pos- 
session of  such  by  each  single  individual,  something  so  tran- 
scendent, so  incapable  of  gradations,  (like  life,)  that,  to  that  ex- 
tent, it  places  all  beings  on  a  common  level,  utterly  regardless  of 
the  distinctions  of  intellect,  virtue,  station,  or  any  height  or  low- 
liness whatever — is  tallied  in  like  manner,  in  this  other  field,  by 
democracy's  rule  that  men,  the  nation,  as  a  common  aggregate  of 
living  identities,  affording  in  each  a  separate  and  complete  sub- 
ject for  freedom,  worldly  thrift  and  happiness,  and  for  a  fair 


DEMOCRATIC  VISTAS.  21 9 

chance  for  growth,  and  for  protection  in  citizenship,  &c,  must, 
to  the  political  extent  of  the  suffrage  or  vote,  if  no  further,  be 
placed,  in  each  and  in  the  whole,  on  one  broad,  primary,  univer- 
sal, common  platform. 

The  purpose  is  not  altogether  direct ;  perhaps  it  is  more  indi- 
rect. For  it  is  not  that  democracy  is  of  exhaustive  account, 
in  itself.  Perhaps,  indeed,  it  is,  (like  Nature,)  of  no  account  in 
itself.  It  is  that,  as  we  see,  it  is  the  best,  perhaps  only,  fit  and 
full  means,  formulater,  general  caller-forth,  trainer,  for  the  mil- 
lion, not  for  grand  material  personalities  only,  but  for  immortal 
souls.  To  be  a  voter  with  the  rest  is  not  so  much  ;  and  this,  like 
every  institute,  will  have  its  imperfections.  But  to  become  an 
enfranchised  man,  and  now,  impediments  removed,  to  stand  and 
start  without  humiliation,  and  equal  with  the  rest ;  to  commence, 
or  have  the  road  clear' d  to  commence,  the  grand  experiment  of 
development,  whose  end,  (perhaps  requiring  several  generations,) 
may  be  the  forming  of  a  full-grown  man  or  woman — that  is 
something.  To  ballast  the  State  is  also  secured,  and  in  our  times 
is  to  be  secured,  in  ho  other  way. 

We  do  not,  (at  any  rate  I  do  not,)  put  it  either  on  the  ground 
that  the  People,  the  masses,  even  the  best  of  them,  are,  in  their 
latent  or  exhibited  qualities,  essentially  sensible  and  good — nor 
on  the  ground  of  their  rights;  but  that  good  or  bad,  rights  or 
no  rights,  the  democratic  formula  is  the  only  safe  and  preserva- 
tive one  for  coming  times.  We  endow  the  masses  with  the  suf- 
frage for  their  own  sake,  no  doubt ;  then,  perhaps  still  more, 
from  another  point  of  view,  for  community's  sake.  Leaving  the 
rest  to  the  sentimentalists,  we  present  freedom  as  sufficient  in  its 
scientific  aspect,  cold  as  ice,  reasoning,  deductive,  clear  and 
passionless  as  crystal. 

Democracy  too  is  law,  and  of  the  strictest,  amplest  kind. 
Many  suppose,  (and  often  in  its  own  ranks  the  error,)  that  it 
means  a  throwing  aside  of  law,  and  running  riot.  But,  briefly, 
it  is  the  superior  law,  not  alone  that  of  physical  force,  the  body, 
which,  adding  to,  it  supersedes  with  that  of  the  spirit.  Law  is 
the  unshakable  order  of  the  universe  forever ;  and  the  law  over 
all,  and  law  of  laws,  is  the  law  of  successions  ;  that  of  the  supe- 
rior law,  in  time,  gradually  supplanting  and  overwhelming  the 
inferior  one.  (While,  for  myself,  I  would  cheerfully  agree — first 
covenanting  that  the  formative  tendencies  shall  be  administer'd 
in  favor,  or  at  least  not  against  it,  and  that  this  reservation  be 
closely  construed — that  until  the  individual  or  community  show 
due  signs,  or  be  so  minor  and  fractional  as  not  to  endanger  the 
State,  the  condition  of  authoritative  tutelage  may  continue,  and 
self-government  must  abide  its  time.)     Nor  is  the  esthetic  point, 


220  COLLECT. 

always  an  important  one,  without  fascination  for  highest  aiming 
souls.  The  common  ambition  strains  fpr  elevations,  to  become 
some  privileged  exclusive.  The  master  sees  greatness  and  health 
in  being  part  of  the  mass ;  nothing  will  do  as  well  as  common 
ground.  Would  you  have  in  yourself  the  divine,  vast,  general 
law?     Then  merge  yourself  in  it. 

And,  topping  democracy,  this  most  alluring  record,  that  it 
alone  can  bind,  and  ever  seeks  to  bind,  all  nations,  all  men,  of 
however  various  and  distant  lands,  into  a  brotherhood,  a  family. 
It  is  the  old,  yet  ever-modern  dream  of  earth,  out  of  her  eldest 
and  her  youngest,  her  fond  philosophers  and  poets.  Not  that 
half  only,  individualism,  which  isolates.  There  is  another  half, 
which  is  adhesiveness  or  love,  that  fuses,  ties  and  aggregates, 
making  the  races  comrades,  and  fraternizing  all.  Both  are  to  be 
vitalized  by  religion,  (sole  worthiest  elevator  of  man  or  State,) 
breathing  into  the  proud,  material  tissues,  the  breath  of  life.  For 
I  say  at  the  core  of  democracy,  finally,  is  the  religious  element. 
All  the  religions,  old  and  new,  are  there.  Nor  may  the  scheme 
step  forth,  clothed  in  resplendent  beauty  and  command,  till  these, 
bearing  the  best,  the  latest  fruit,  the  spiritual,  shall  fully  ap- 
pear. 

A  portion  of  our  pages  we  might  indite  with  reference  toward 
Europe,  especially  the  British  part  of  it,  more  than  our  own  land, 
perhaps  not  absolutely  needed  for  the  home  reader.  But  the 
whole  question  hangs  together,  and  fastens  and  links  all  peoples. 
The  liberalist  of  to-day  has  this  advantage  over  antique  or  medi- 
eval times,  that  his  doctrine  seeks  not  only  to  individualize  but  to 
universalize.  The  great  word  Solidarity  has  arisen.  Of  all  dan- 
gers to  a  nation,  as  things  exist  in  our  day,  there  can  be  no  greater 
one  than  having  certain  portions  of  the  people  set  off  from  the 
rest  by  a  line  drawn — they  not  privileged  as  others,  but  degraded, 
humiliated,  made  of  no  account.  Much  quackery  teems,  of 
course,  even  on  democracy's  side,  yet  does  not  really  affect  the 
orbic  quality  of  the  matter.  To  work  in,  if  we  may  so  term  it? 
and  justify  God,  his  divine  aggregate,  the  People,  (or,  the  veri- 
table horn'd  and  sharp-tail'd  Devil,  his  aggregate,  if  there  be 
who  convulsively  insist  upon  it) — this,  I  say,  is  what  democracy 
is  for;  and  this  is  what  our  America  means,  and  is  doing — may 
I  not  say,  has  done?  If  not,  she  means  nothing  more,  and  does 
nothing  more,  than  any  other  land.  And  as,  by  virtue  of  its 
kosmical,  antiseptic  power,  Nature's  stomach  is  fully  strong 
enough  not  only  to  digest  the  morbific  matter  always  presented, 
not  to  be  turn'd  aside,  and  perhaps,  indeed,  intuitively  gravitat- 
ing thither — but  even  to  change  such  contributions  into  nutri- 
ment for  highest  use  and  life — so  American  democracy's.     That 


DEMOCRATIC  VISTAS.  221 

is  the  lesson  we,  these  days,  send  over  to  European  lands  by  every 
western  breeze. 

And,  truly,  whatever  may  be  said  in  the  way  of  abstract  argu- 
ment, for  or  against  the  theory  of  a  wider  democratizing  of  insti- 
tutions in  any  civilized  country,  much  trouble  might  well  be 
saved  to  all  European  lands  by  recognizing  this  palpable  fact,  (for 
a  palpable  fact  it  is,)  that  some  form  of  such  democratizing  is 
about  the  only  resource  now  left.  That,  or  chronic  dissatisfac- 
tion continued,  mutterings  which  grow  annually  louder  and 
louder,  till,  in  due  course,  and  pretty  swiftly  in  most  cases,  the 
inevitable  crisis,  crash,  dynastic  ruin.  Anything  worthy  to  be 
call'd  statesmanship  in  the  Old  World,  I  should  say,  among  the 
advanced  students,  adepts,  or  men  of  any  brains,  does  not  de- 
bate 'to-day  whether  to  hold  on,  attempting  to  lean  back  and 
monarchize,  or  to  look  forward  and  democratize — but  how,  and 
in  what  degree  and  part,  most  prudently  to  democratize. 

The  eager  and  often  inconsiderate  appeals  of  reformers  and 
revolutionists  are  indispensable,  to  counterbalance  the  inertness 
and  fossilism  making  so  large  a  part  of  human  institutions.  The 
latter  will  always  take  care  of  themselves — the  danger  being  that 
they  rapidly  tend  to  ossify  us.  The  former  is  to  be  treated  with 
indulgence,  and  even  with  respect.  As  circulation  to  air,  so  is 
agitation  and  a  plentiful  degree  of  speculative  license  to  political 
and  moral  sanity.  Indirectly,  but  surely,  goodness,  virtue,  law, 
(of  the  very  best,)  follow  freedom.  These,  to  democracy,  are 
what  the  keel  is  to  the  ship,  or  saltness  to  the  ocean. 

The  true  gravitation-hold  of  liberalism  in  the  United  States 
will  be  a  more  universal  ownership  of  property,  general  home- 
steads, general  comfort — avast,  intertwining  reticulation  of  wealth. 
As  the  human  frame,  or,  indeed,  any  object  in  this  manifold 
universe,  is  best  kept  together  by  the  simple  miracle  of  its  own 
cohesion,  and  the  necessity,  exercise  and  profit  thereof,  so  a  great 
and  varied  nationality,  occupying  millions  of  square  miles,  were 
firmest  held  and  knit  by  the  principle  of  the  safety  and  endur- 
ance of  the  aggregate  of  its  middling  property  owners.  So  that, 
from  another  point  of  view,  ungracious  as  it  may  sound,  and  a 
paradox  after  what  we  have  been  saying,  democracy  looks  with 
suspicious,  ill-satisfied  eye  upon  the  very  poor,  the  ignorant,  and 
on  those  out  of  business.  She  asks  for  men  and  women  with 
occupations,  well-off,  owners  of  houses  and  acres,  and  with  cash 
in  the  bank — and  with  some  cravings  for  literature,  too  ;  and 
must  have  them,  and  hastens  to  make  them.  Luckily,  the  seed 
is  already  well-sown,  and  has  taken  ineradicable  root.* 

*  For  fear  of  mistake,  I  may  as  well  distinctly  specify,  as  cheerfully  in. 
eluded  in  the  model  and  standard  of  these  Vistas,  a  practical,  stirring,  worldly, 


2  22  COLLECT. 

Huge  and  mighty  are  our  days,  our  republican  lands — and  most 
in  their  rapid  shiftings,  their  changes,  all  in  the  interest  of  the 
cause.  As  I  write  this  particular  passage,  (November,  1868,)  the 
din  of  disputation  rages  around  me.  Acrid  the  temper  of  the 
parties,  vital  the  pending  questions.  Congress  convenes;  the 
President  sends  his  message ;  reconstruction  is  still  in  abeyance ; 
the  nomination  and  the  contest  for  the  twenty-first  Presidentiad 
draw  close,  with  loudest  threat  and  bustle.  Of  these,  and  all 
the  like  of  these,  the  eventuations  I  know  not ;  but  well  I  know 
that  behind  them,  and  whatever  their  eventuations,  the  vital 
things  remain  safe  and  certain,  and  all  the  needed  work  goes  on. 
Time,  with  soon  or  later  superciliousness,  disposes  of  Presidents, 
Congressmen,  party  platforms,  and  such.  Anon,  it  clears  the 
stage  of  each  and  any  mortal  shred  that  thinks  itself  so  potent 
to  its  day ;  and  at  and  after  which,  (with  precious,  golden  ex- 
ceptions once  or  twice  in  a  century,)  all  that  relates  to  sir  po- 
tency is  flung  to  moulder  in  a  burial-vault,  and  no  one  bothers 
himself  the  least  bit  about  it  afterward.  But  the  People  ever  re- 
main, tendencies  continue,  and  all  the  idiocratic  transfers  in 
unbroken  chain  go  on. 

In  a  few  years  the  dominion-heart  of  America  will  be  far  in- 
land, toward  the  West.  Our  future  national  capital  may  not  be 
where  the  present  one  is.  It  is  possible,  nay  likely,  that  in  less 
than  fifty  years,  it  will  migrate  a  thousand  or  two  miles,  will  be 
re-founded,  and  every  thing  belonging  to  it  made  on  a  different 
plan,  original,  far  more  superb.  The  main  social,  political,  spine- 
character  of  the  States  will  probably  run  along  the  Ohio,  Mis- 
souri and  Mississippi  rivers,  and  west  and  north  of  them,  in- 
cluding Canada.  Those  regions,  with  the  group  of  powerful 
brothers  toward  the  Pacific,  (destined  to  the  mastership  of  that 
sea  and  its  countless  paradises  of  islands,)  will  compact  and  set- 
tle the  traits  of  America,  with  all  the  old  retain'd,  but  more  ex- 
panded, grafted  on  newer,  hardier,  purely  native  stock.  A  giant 
growth,  composite  from  the  rest,  getting  their  contribution,  ab- 
sorbing it,  to  make  it  more  illustrious.  From  the  north,  intel- 
lect, the  sun  of  things,  also  the  idea  of  unswayable  justice,  an- 

money-making,  even  materialistic  character.  It  is  undeniable  that  our  farms, 
stores,  offices,  dry-goods,  coal  and  groceries,  enginery,  cash-accounts,  trades, 
earnings,  markets,  &c,  should  be  attended  to  in  earnest,  and  actively  pur- 
sued, just  as  if  they  had  a  real  and  permanent  existence.  I  perceive  clearly 
that  the  extreme  business  energy,  and  this  almost  maniacal  appetite  for  wealth 
prevalent  in  the  United  States,  are  parts  of  amelioration  and  progress,  indis- 
pensably needed  to  prepare  the  very  results  I  demand.  My  theory  includes 
riches,  and  the  getting  of  riches,  and  the  amplest  products,  power,  activity, 
inventions,  movements,  &c.  Upon  them,  as  upon  substrata,  I  raise  the  edi- 
fice design'd  in  these  Vistas. 


DEMOCRATIC  VISTAS. 


223 


chor  amid  the  last,  the  wildest  tempests.  From  the  south  the 
living  soul,  the  animus  of  good  and  bad,  haughtily  admitting  no 
demonstration  but  its  own.  While  from  the  west  itself  comes 
solid  personality,  with  blood  and  brawn,  and  the  deep  quality  of 
all-accepting  fusion. 

Political  democracy,  as  it  exists  and  practically  works  in 
America,  with  all  its  threatening  evils,  supplies  a  training-school 
for  making  first-class  men. '  It  is  life's  gymnasium,  not  of  good 
only,  but  of  all.  We  try  often,  though  we  fall  back  often.  A 
brave  delight,  fit  for  freedom's  athletes,  fills  these  arenas,  and  fully 
satisfies,  out  of  the  action  in  them,  irrespective  of  success.  What- 
ever we  do  not  attain,  we  at  any  rate  attain  the  experiences  of 
the  fight,  the  hardening  of  the  strong  campaign,  and  throb  with 
currents  of  attempt  at  least.  Time  is  ample.  Let  the  victors 
come  after  us.  Not  for  nothing  does  evil  play  its  part  among 
us.  Judging  from  the  main  portions  of  the  history  of  the  world, 
so  far,  justice  is  always  in  jeopardy,  peace  walks  amid  hourly  pit- 
falls, and  of  slavery,  misery,  meanness,  the  craft  of  tyrants  and 
the  credulity  of  the  populace,  in  some  of  their  protean  forms, 
no  voice  can  at  any  time  say,  They  are  not.  The  clouds  break  a 
little,  and  the  sun  shines  out — but  soon  and  certain  the  lowering 
darkness  falls  again,  as  if  to  last  forever.  Yet  is  there  an  im- 
mortal courage  and  prophecy  in  every  sane  soul  that  cannot, 
must  not,  under  any  circumstances,  capitulate.  Vive,  the  attack — 
the  perennial  assault !  Vive,  the  unpopular  cause — the  spirit  that 
audaciously  aims — the  never-abandon'd  efforts,  pursued  the  same 
amid  opposing  proofs  and  precedents. 

Once,  before  the  war,  (Alas !  I  dare  not  say  how  many  times 
the  mood  has  come  !)  I,  too,  was  fill'd  with  doubt  and  gloom.  A 
foreigner,  an  acute  and  good  man,  had  impressively  said  to  me, 
that  day — putting  in  form,  indeed,  my  own  observations :  "  I  have 
travel'd  much  in  the  United  States,  and  watch'd  their  politi- 
cians, and  listen'd  to  the  speeches  of  the  candidates,  and  read 
the  journals,  and  gone  into  the  public  houses,  and  heard  the  un- 
guarded talk  of  men.  And  I  have  found  your  vaunted  America 
honeycomb'd  from  top  to  toe  with  infidelism,  even  to  itself  and 
its  own  programme.  I  have  mark'd  the  brazen  hell-faces  of  se- 
cession and  slavery  gazing  defiantly  from  all  the  windows  and 
doorways.  I  have  everywhere  found,  primarily,  thieves  and  scal- 
liwags  arranging  the  nominations  to  offices,  and  sometimes  filling 
the  offices  themselves.  I  have  found  the  north  just  as  full  of  bad 
stuff  as  the  south.  Of  the  holders  of  public  office  in  the  Na- 
tion or  the  States  or  their  municipalities,  I  have  found  that  not 
one  in  a  hundred  has  been  chosen  by  any  spontaneous  selection 


224  COLLECT. 

of  the  outsiders,  the  people,  but  all  have  been  nominated  and 
put  through  by  little  or  large  caucuses  of  the  politicians,  and 
have  got  in  by  corrupt  rings  and  electioneering,  not  capacity  or 
desert.  I  have  noticed  how  the  millions  of  sturdy  farmers  and 
mechanics  are  thus  the  helpless  supple-jacks  of  comparatively  few- 
politicians.  And  I  have  noticed  more  and  more,  the  alarming 
spectacle  of  parties  usurping  the  government,  and  openly  and 
shamelessly  wielding  it  for  party  purposes." 

Sad,  serious,  deep  truths.  Yet  are  there  other,  still  deeper, 
amply  confronting,  dominating  truths.  Over  those  politicians 
and  great  and  little  rings,  and  over  all  their  insolence  and  wiles, 
and  over  the  powerfulest  parties,  looms  a  power,  too  sluggish  may- 
be, but  ever  holding  decisions  and  decrees  in  hand,  ready,  with 
stern  process,  to  execute  them  as  soon  as  plainly  needed — and  at 
times,  indeed,  summarily  crushing  to  atoms  the  mightiest  parties, 
even  in  the  hour  of  their  pride. 

In  saner  hours  far  different  are  the  amounts  of  these  things 
from  what,  at  first  sight,  they  appear.  Though  it  is  no  doubt 
important  who  is  elected  governor,  mayor,  or  legislator,  (and  full 
of  dismay  when  incompetent  or  vile  ones  get  elected,  as  they 
sometimes  do,)  there  are  other,  quieter  contingencies,  infinitely 
more  important.  Shams,  &c,  will  always  be  the  show,  like 
ocean's  scum ;  enough,  if  waters  deep  and  clear  make  up  the 
rest.  Enough,  that  while  the  piled  embroider' d  shoddy  gaud 
and  fraud  spreads  to  the  superficial  eye,  the  hidden  warp  and 
weft  are  genuine,  and  will  wear  forever.  Enough,  in  short,  that 
the  race,  the  land  which  could  raise  such  as  the  late  rebellion, 
could  also  put  it  down. 

The  average  man  of  a  land  at  last  only  is  important.  He,  in 
these  States,  remains  immortal  owner  and  boss,  deriving  good 
uses,  somehow,  out  of  any  sort  of  servant  in  office,  even  the  basest; 
(certain  universal  requisites,  and  their  settled  regularity  and  pro- 
tection, being  first  secured,)  a  nation  like  ours,  in  a  sort  of  geo- 
logical formation  state,  trying  continually  new  experiments,  choos- 
ing new  delegations,  is  not  served  by  the  best  men  only,  but 
sometimes  more  by  those  that  provoke  it — by  the  combats  they 
arouse.  Thus  national  rage,  fury,  discussion,  &c,  better  than 
content.  Thus,  also,  the  warning  signals,  invaluable  for  after 
times. 

What  is  more  dramatic  than  the  spectacle  we  have  seen  re- 
peated, and  doubtless  long  shall  see — the  popular  judgment  taking 
the  successful  candidates  on  trial  in  the  offices — standing  off,  as 
it  were,  and  observing  them  and  their  doings  for  a  while,  and  al- 
ways giving,  finally,  the  fit,  exactly  due  reward?  I  think,  after 
all,  the  sublimest  part  of  political  history,  and  its  culmination, 


DEMOCRATIC  VISTAS. 


225 


is  currently  issuing  from  the  American  people.  I  know  nothing 
grander,  better  exercise,  better  digestion,  more  positive  proof  of 
the  past,  the  triumphant  result  of  faith  in  human  kind,  than  a  well- 
contested  American  national  election. 

Then  still  the  thought  returns,  (like  the  thread -passage  in  over- 
tures,) giving  the  key  and  echo  to  these  pages.  When  I  pass  to 
and  fro,  different  latitudes,  different  seasons,  beholding  the  crowds 
of  the  great  cities,  New  York,  Boston,  Philadelphia,  Cincinnati, 
Chicago,  St.  Louis,  San  Francisco,  New  Orleans,  Baltimore — when 
I  mix  with  these  interminable  swarms  of  alert,  turbulent,  good- 
natured,  independent  citizens,  mechanics,  clerks,  young  persons 
— at  the  idea  of  this  mass  of  men,  so  fresh  and  free,  so  loving 
and  so  proud,  a  singular  awe  falls  upon  me.  I  feel,  with  dejec- 
tion and  amazement,  that  among  our  geniuses  and  talented 
writers  or  speakers,  few  or  none  have  yet  really  spoken  to  this 
people,  created  a  single  image-making  work  for  them,  orabsorb'd 
the  central  spirit  and  the  idiosyncrasies  which  are  theirs — and 
which,  thus,  in  highest  ranges,  so  far  remain  entirely  uncelebrated, 
unexpress'd. 

'Dominion  strong  is  the  body's;  dominion  stronger  is  the 
mind's.  What  has  fill'd,  and  fills  to-day  our  intellect,  our  fancy, 
furnishing  the  standards  therein,  is  yet  foreign.  The  great  poems, 
Shakspere  included,  are  poisonous  to  the  idea  of  the  pride  and 
dignity  of  the  common  people,  the  life-blood  of  democracy.  The 
models  of  our  literature,  as  we  get  it  from  other  lands,  ultra- 
marine, have  had  their  birth  in  courts,  and  bask'd  and  grown  in 
castle  sunshine ;  all  smells  of  princes'  favors.  Of  workers  of  a 
certain  sort,  we  have,  indeed,  plenty,  contributing  after  their 
kind  ;  many  elegant,  many  learn'd,  all  complacent.  But  touch' d 
by  the  national  test,  or  tried  by  the  standards  of  democratic  per- 
sonality, they  wither  to  ashes.  I  say  I  have  not  seen  a  single  writer, 
artist,  lecturer,  or  what  not,  that  has  confronted  the  voiceless 
but  ever  erect  and  active,  pervading,  underlying  will  and  typic 
aspiration  of  the  land,  in  a  spirit  kindred  to  itself.  Do  you  call 
those  genteel  little  creatures  American  poets?  Do  you  term  that 
perpetual,  pistareen,  paste-pot  work,  American  art,  American 
drama,  taste,  verse?  I  think  I  hear,  echoed  as  from  some  moun- 
tain-top afar  in  the  west,  the  scornful  laugh  of  the  Genius  of  these 
States. 

Democracy,  in  silence,  biding  its  time,  ponders  its  own  ideals, 
not  of  literature  and  art  only — not  of  men  only,  but  of  women. 
The  idea  of  the  women  of  America,  (extricated  from  this  daze, 
this  fossil  and  unhealthy  air  which  hangs  about  the  word  /ady,) 
develop' d,  raised  to  become  the  robust  equals,  workers,  and,  it 


226  COLLECT. 

may  be,  even  practical  and  political  deciders  with  the  men — 
greater  than  man,  we  may  admit,  through  their  divine  maternity, 
always  their  towering,  emblematical  attribute — but  great,  at  any 
rate,  as  man,  in  all  departments ;  or,  rather,  capable  of  being  so, 
soon  as  they  realize  it,  and  can  bring  themselves  to  give  up  toys 
and  fictions,  and  launch  forth,  as  men  do,  amid  real,  independent, 
stormy  life. 

Then,  as  towards  our  thought's  finale,  (and,  in  that,  overarch- 
ing the  true  scholar's  lesson,)  we  have  to  say  there  can  be  no  com- 
plete or  epical  presentation  of  democracy  in  the  aggregate,  or  any- 
thing like  it,  at  this  day,  because  its  doctrines  will  only  be  effect- 
ually incarnated  in  any  one  branch,  when,  in  all,  their  spirit  is  at 
the  root  and  centre.  Far,  far,  indeed,  stretch,  in  distance,  our 
Vistas  !  How  much  is  still  to  be  disentangled,  freed  !  How 
long  it  takes  to  make  this  American  world  see  that  it  is,  in  itself, 
the  final  authority  and  reliance  ! 

Did  you,  too,  O  friend,  suppose  democracy  was  only  for  elec- 
tions, for  politics,  and  for  a  party  name?  I  say  democracy  is  only 
of  use  there  that  it  may  pass  on  and  come  to  its  flower  and  fruits 
in  manners,  in  the  highest  forms  of  interaction  between  men,  and 
their  beliefs — in  religion,  literature,  colleges,  and  schools — de- 
mocracy in  all  public  and  private  life,  and  in  the  army  and  navy.* 
I  have  intimated  that,  as  a  paramount  scheme,  it  has  yet  few  or 
no  full  realizers  and  believers.  I  do  not  see,  either,  that  it  owes 
any  serious  thanks  to  noted  propagandists  or  champions,  or  has 
been  essentially  help'd,  though  often  harm'd,  by  them.  It  has 
been  and  is  carried  on  by  all  the  moral  forces,  and  by  trade, 
finance,  machinery,  intercommunications,  and,  in  fact,  by  all  the 
developments  of  history,  and  can  no  more  be  stopp'd  than  the 
tides,  or  the  earth  in  its  orbit.  Doubtless,  also,  it  resides,  crude 
and  latent,  well  down  in  the  hearts  of  the  fair  average  of  the 
American-born  people,  mainly  in  the  agricultural  regions.  But  it 
is  not  yet,  there  or  anywhere,  the  fully-receiv'd,  the  fervid,  the 
absolute  faith. 

I  submit,  therefore,  that  the  fruition  of  democracy,  on  aught 
like  a  grand  scale,  resides  altogether  in  the  future.  As,  under 
any  profound  and  comprehensive  view  of  the  gorgeous-composite 
feudal  world,  we  see  in  it,  through  the  long  ages  and  cycles  of 
ages,  the  results  of  a  deep,  integral,  human  and  divine  princi- 

*  The  whole  present  system  of  the  officering  and  personnel  of  the  army  and 
navy  of  these  States,  and  the  spirit  and  letter  of  their  trebly-aristocratic  rules 
and  regulations,  is  a  monstrous  exotic,  a  nuisance  and  revolt,  and  belong 
here  just  as  much  as  orders  of  nobility,  or  the  Pope's  council  of  cardinals.  I 
say  if  the  present  theory  of  our  army  and  navy  is  sensible  and  true,  then  the 
rest  of  America  is  an  unmitigated  fraud. 


DEMOCRATIC  VISTAS.  227 

pie,  or  fountain,  from  which  issued  laws,  ecclesia,  manners, 
institutes,  costumes,  personalities,  poems,  (hitherto  unequall'd,) 
faithfully  partaking  of  their  source,  and  indeed  only  arising 
either  to  betoken  it,  or  to  furnish  parts  of  that  varied-flow- 
ing display,  whose  centre  was  one  and  absolute — so,  long  ages 
hence,  shall  the  due  historian  or  critic  make  at  least  an  equal 
retrospect,  an  equal  history  for  the  democratic  principle.  It 
too  must  be  adorn'd,  credited  with  its  results — then,  when  it, 
with  imperial  power,  through  amplest  time,  has  dominated  man- 
kind— has  been  the  source  and  test  of  all  the  moral,  esthetic, 
social,  political,  and  religious  expressions  and  institutes  of  the 
civilized  world — has  begotten  them  in  spirit  and  in  form,  and 
has  carried  them  to  its  own  unprecedented  heights — has  had,  (it 
is  possible,)  monastics  and  ascetics,  more  numerous,  more  de- 
vout than  the  monks  and  priests  of  all  previous  creeds — has 
sway'd  the  ages  with  a  breadth  and  rectitude  tallying  Nature's 
own — has  fashion'd,  systematized,  and  triumphantly  finish' d  and 
carried  out,  in  its  own  interest,  and  with  unparallel'd  success,  a 
new  earth  and  a  new  man. 

Thus  we  presume  to  write,  as  it  were,  upon  things  that  exist 
not,  and  travel  by  maps  yet  unmade,  and  a  blank.  But  the 
throes  of  birth  are  upon  us ;  and  we  have  something  of  this  ad- 
vantage in  seasons  of  strong  formations,  doubts,  suspense — for 
then  the  afflatus  of  such  themes  haply  may  fall  upon  us,  more  or 
less;  and  then,  hot  from  surrounding  war  and  revolution,  our 
speech,  though  without  polish'd  coherence,  and  a  failure  by  the 
standard  called  criticism,  comes  forth,  real  at  least  as  the  light- 
nings. 

And  may-be  we,  these  days,  have,  too,  our  own  reward — (for 
there  are  yet  some,  in  all  lands,  worthy  to  be  so  encouraged.) 
Though  not  for  us  the  joy  of  entering  at  the  last  the  conquer'd 
city — not  ours  the  chance  ever  to  see  with  our  own  eyes  the  peer- 
less power  and  splendid  eclat  of  the  democratic  principle,  arriv'd 
at  meridian,  filling  the  world  with  effulgence  and  majesty  far  be- 
yond those  of  past  history's  kings,  or  all  dynastic  sway — there  is 
yet,  to  whoever  is  eligible  among  us,  the  prophetic  vision,  the 
joy  of  being  toss'd  in  the  brave  turmoil  of  these  times — the  pro- 
mulgation and  the  path,  obedient,  lowly  reverent  to  the  voice, 
the  gesture  of  the  god,  or  holy  ghost,  which  others  see  not,  hear 
not — with  the  proud  consciousness  that  amid  whatever  clouds, 
seductions,  or  heart-wearying  postponements,  we  have  never  de- 
serted, never  despair'd,  never  abandon'd  the  faith. 

So  much  contributed,  to  be  conn'd  well,  to  help  prepare  and 
brace  our  edifice,  our  plann'd  Idea — we  still  proceed  to  give  it  in 


228  COLLECT. 

another  of  its  aspects — perhaps  the  main,  the  high  facade  of  all. 
For  to  democracy,  the  leveler,  the  unyielding  principle  of  the 
average,  is  surely  join'd  another  principle,  equally  unyielding, 
closely  tracking  the  first,  indispensable  to  it,  opposite,  (as  the 
sexes  are  opposite,)  and  whose  existence,  confronting  and  ever 
modifying  the  other,  often  clashing,  paradoxical,  yet  neither  of 
highest  avail  without  the  other,  plainly  supplies  to  these  grand 
cosmic  politics  of  ours,  and  to  the  launch'd  forth  mortal  dangers 
of  republicanism,  to-day  or  any  day,  the, counterpart  and  offset 
whereby  Nature  restrains  the  deadly  original  relentlessness  of  all 
her  first-class  laws.  This  second  principle  is  individuality,  the 
pride  and  centripetal  isolation  of  a  human  being  in  himself — 
identity — personalism.  Whatever  the  name,  its  acceptance  and 
thorough  infusion  through  the  organizations  of  political  com- 
monalty now  shooting  Aurora-like  about  the  world,  are  of  utmost 
importance,  as  the  principle  itself  is  needed  for  very  life's  sake. 
It  forms,  in  a  sort,  or  is  to  form,  the  compensating  balance- 
wheel  of  the  successful  working  machinery  of  aggregate  America. 
And,  if  we  think  of  it,  what  does  civilization  itself  rest  upon — 
and  what  object  has  it,  with  its  religions,  arts,  schools,  &c,  but 
rich,  luxuriant,  varied  personalism  ?  To  that,  all  bends  ;  and  it 
is  because  toward  such  result  democracy  alone,  on  anything  like 
Nature's  scale,  breaks  up  the  limitless  fallows  of  humankind,  and 
plants  the  seed,  and  gives  fair  play,  that  its  claims  now  precede 
the  rest.  The  literature,  songs,  esthetics,  &c,  of  a  country  are 
of  importance  principally  because  they  furnish  the  materials  and 
suggestions  of  personality  for  the  women  and  men  of  that  coun- 
try, and  enforce  them  in  a  thousand  effective  ways.*     As  the  top- 

*  After  the  rest  is  satiated,  all  interest  culminates  in  the  field  of  persons, 
and  never  flags  there.  Accordingly  in  this  field  have  the  great  poets  and  lite- 
ratuses  signally  toil'd.  They  too,  in  all  ages,  all  lands,  have  been  creators, 
fashioning,  making  types  of  men  and  women,  as  Adam  and  Eve  are  made  in 
the  divine  fable.  Behold,  shaped,  bred  by  orientalism,  feudalism,  through 
their  long  growth  and  culmination,  and  breeding  back  in  return — (when 
shall  we  have  an  equal  series,  typical  of  democracy?) — behold,  commencing 
in  primal  Asia,  (apparently  formulated,  in  what  beginning  we  know,  in  the 
gods  of  the  mythologies,  and  coming  down  thence,)  a  few  samples  out  of  the 
countless  product,  bequeath'd  to  the  moderns,  bequeath'd  to  America  as  stu- 
dies. For  the  men,  Yudishtura,  Rama,  Arjuna,  Solomon,  most  of  the  Old 
and  New  Testament  characters;  Achilles,  Ulysses,  Theseus,  Prometheus,  Her- 
cules, ^Eneas,  Plutarch's  heroes;  the  Merlin  of  Celtic  bards;  the  Cid,  Arthur 
and  his  knights,  Siegfried  and  Hagen  in  the  Nibelungen ;  Roland  and  Oliver; 
Roustam  in  the  Shah-Nemah;  and  so  on  to  Milton's  Satan,  Cervantes'  Don 
Quixote,  Shakspere's  Hamlet,  Richard  II. ,  Lear,  Marc  Antony,  &c,  and  the 
modern  Faust.  These,  I  say,  are  models,  combined,  adjusted  to  other  stand- 
ards than  America's,  but  of  priceless  value  to  her  and  hers. 

Among  women,  the  goddesses  of  the  Egyptian,  Indian  and  Greek  mytholo- 
gies, certain  Bible  characters,  especially  the  Holy  Mother ;  Cleopatra,  Penel- 


DEMOCRATIC  VISTAS. 


229 


most  claim  of  a  strong  consolidating  of  the  nationality  of  these 
States,  is,  that  only  by  such  powerful  compaction  can  the  separate 
States  secure  that  full  and  free  swing  within  their  spheres,  which 
is  becoming  to  them,  each  after  its  kind,  so  will  individuality, 
with  unimpeded  branchings,  flourish  best  under  imperial  republi- 
can forms. 

Assuming  Democracy  to  be  at  present  in  its  embryo  condition, 
and  that  the  only  large  and  satisfactory  justification  of  it  resides 
in  the  future,  mainly  through  the  copious  production  of  perfect 
characters  among  the  people,  and  through  the  advent  of  a  sane 
and  pervading  religiousness,  it  is  with  regard  to  the  atmosphere 
and  spaciousness  fit  for  such  characters,  and  of  certain  nutriment 
and  cartoon-draftings  proper  for  them,  and  indicating  them  for 
New  World  purposes,  that  I  continue  the  present  statement — an 
exploration,  as  of  new  ground,  wherein,  like  other  primitive  sur- 
veyors, I  must  do  the  best  I  can,  leaving  it  to  those  who  come 
after  me  to  do  much  better.  (The  service,  in  fact,  if  any,  must 
be  to  break  a  sort  of  first  path  or  track,  no  matter  how  rude  and 
ungeometrical.) 

We  have  frequently  printed  the  word  Democracy.  Yet  I  can- 
not too  often  repeat  that  it  is  a  word  the  real  gist  of  which  still 
sleeps,  quite  unawaken'd,  notwithstanding  the  resonance  and  the 
many  angry  tempests  out  of  which  its  syllables  have  come,  from 
pen  or  tongue.  It  is  a  great  word,  whose  history,  I  suppose,  re- 
mains unwritten,  because  that  history  has  yet  to  be  enacted.  It 
is,  in  some  sort,  younger  brother  of  another  great  and  often-used 
word,  Nature,  whose  history  also  waits  unwritten.  As  I  perceive, 
the  tendencies  of  our  day,  in  the  States,  (and  I  entirely  respect 
them,)  are  toward  those  vast  and  sweeping  movements,  influences, 
moral  and  physical,  of  humanity,  now  and  always  current  over 
the  planet,  on  the  scale  of  the  impulses  of  the  elements.  Then 
it  is  also  good  to  reduce  the  whole  matter  to  the  consideration  of 
a  single  self,  a  man,  a  woman,  on  permanent  grounds.  Even  for 
the  treatment  of  the  universal,  in  politics,  metaphysics,  or  any- 
thing, sooner,  or  later  we  come  down  to  one  single,  solitary  soul. 

There  is,  in  sanest  hours,  a  consciousness,  a  thought  that  rises, 
independent,  lifted  out  from  all  else,  calm,  like  the  stars,  shining 
eternal.  This  is  the  thought  of  identity — yours  for  you,  who- 
ever you  are,  as  mine  for  me.  Miracle  of  miracles,  beyond 
statement,   most  spiritual   and    vaguest  of  earth's   dreams,   yet 

ope ;  the  portraits  of  firunhelde  and  Chriemhilde  in  the  Nibelungen  ;  Oriana, 
Una,  &c. ;  the  modern  Consuelo,  Walter  Scott's  Jeanie  and  Effie  Deans,  &c., 
&c.  (Yet  woman  portray 'd  or  outlin'd  at  her  best,  or  as  perfect  human  mother, 
does  not  hitherto,  it  seems  to  me,  fully  appear  in  literature.) 


2?o  COLLECT. 

hardest  basic  fact,  and  only  entrance  to  all  facts.  In  such  devout 
hours,  in  the  midst  of  the  significant  wonders  of  heaven  and 
earth,  (significant  only  because  of  the  Me  in  the  centre,)  creeds, 
conventions,  fall  away  and  become  of  no  account  before  this 
simple  idea.  Under  the  luminousness  of  real  vision,  it  alone 
takes  possession,  takes  value.  Like  the  shadowy  dwarf  in  the 
fable,  once  liberated  and  look'd  upon,  it  expands  over  the  whole 
earth,  and  spreads  to  the  roof  of  heaven. 

The  quality  of  Being,  in  the  object's  self,  according  to  its  own 
central  idea  and  purpose,  and  of  growing  therefrom  and  thereto 
— not  criticism  by  other  standards,  and  adjustments  thereto — is 
the  lesson  of  Nature.  True,  the  full  man  wisely  gathers,  culls, 
absorbs ;  but  if,  engaged  disproportionately  in  that,  he  slights  or 
overlays  the  precious  idiocrasy  and  special  nativity  and  intention 
that  he  is,  the  man's  self,  the  main  thing,  is  a  failure,  however 
wide  his  general  cultivation.  Thus,  in  our  times,  refinement  and 
delicatesse  are  not  only  attended  to  sufficiently,  but  threaten  to 
eat  us  up,  like  a  cancer.  Already,  the  democratic  genius  watches, 
ill- pleased,  these  tendencies.  Provision  for  a  little  healthy  rude- 
ness, savage  virtue,  justification  of  what  one  has  in  one's  self, 
whatever  it  is,  is  demanded.  Negative  qualities,  even  deficiencies, 
would  be  a  relief.  Singleness  and  normal  simplicity  and  separa- 
tion, amid  this  more  and  more  complex,  more  and  more  artifi- 
cialized  state  of  society — how  pensively  we  yearn  for  them  !  how 
we  would  welcome  their  return  ! 

In  some  such  direction,  then — at  any  rate  enough  to  preserve 
the  balance — we  feel  called  upon  to  throw  what  weight  we  can, 
not  for  absolute  reasons,  but  current  ones.  To  prune,  gather, 
trim,  conform,  and  ever  cram  and  stuff,  and  be  genteel  and 
proper,  is  the  pressure  of  our  days.  While  aware  that  much  can 
be  said  even  in  behalf  of  all  this,  we  perceive  that  we  have  not 
now  to  consider  the  question  of  what  is  demanded  to  serve  a  half- 
starved  and  barbarous  nation,  or  set  of  nations,  but  what  is  most 
applicable,  most  pertinent,  for  numerous  congeries  of  conven- 
tional, over-corpulent  societies,  already  becoming  stifled  and  rot- 
ten with  flatulent,  infidelistic  literature,  and  polite  conformity 
and  art.  In  addition  to  establish' d  sciences,  we  suggest  a  science 
as  it  were  of  healthy  average  personalism,  on  original-universal 
grounds,  the  object  of  which  should  be  to  raise  up  and  supply 
through  the  States  a  copious  race  of  superb  American  men  and 
women,  cheerful,  religious,  ahead  of  any  yet  known. 

America  has  yet  morally  and  artistically  originated  nothing. 
She  seems  singularly  unaware  that  the  models  of  persons,  books, 
manners,  &c.,  appropriate  for  former  conditions  and  for  European 
lands,  are  but  exiles  and  exotics  here.     No  current  of  her  life,  as 


DEMOCRATIC  VISTAS. 


231 


shown  on  the  surfaces  of  what  is  authoritatively  called  her  society, 
accepts  or  runs  into  social  or  esthetic  democracy;  but  all 
the  currents  set  squarely  against  it.  Never,  in  the  Old  World, 
was  thoroughly  upholster'd  exterior  appearance  and  show,  mental 
and  other,  built  entirely  on  the  idea  of  caste,  and  on  the  suffi- 
ciency of  mere  outside  acquisition — never  were  glibness,  verbal 
intellect,  more  the  test,  the  emulation — more  loftily  elevated  as 
head  and  sample — than  they  are  on  the  surface  of  our  republican 
States  this  day.  The  writers  of  a  time  hint  the  mottoes  of  its 
gods.  The  word  of  the  modern,  say  these  voices,  is  the  word 
Culture. 

We  find  ourselves  abruptly  in  close  quarters  with  the  enemy. 
This  word  Culture,  or  what  it  has  come  to  represent,  involves, 
by  contrast,  our  whole  theme,  and  has  been,  indeed,  the  spur, 
urging  us  to  engagement.  Certain  questions  arise.  As  now  taught, 
accepted  and  carried  out,  are  not  the  processes  of  culture  rapidly 
creating  a  class  of  supercilious  infidels,  who  believe  in  nothing  ? 
Shall  a  man  lose  himself  in  countless  masses  of  adjustments,  and 
be  so  shaped  with  reference  to  this,  that,  and  the  other,  that  the 
simply  good  and  healthy  and  brave  parts  of  him  are  reduced  and 
clipp'd  away,  like  the  bordering  of  box  in  a  garden  ?  You  can 
cultivate  corn  and  roses  and  orchards — but  who  shall  cultivate 
the  mountain  peaks,  the  ocean,  and  the  tumbling  gorgeousness  of 
the  clouds?  Lastly — is  the  readily-given  reply  that  culture  only 
seeks  to  help,  systematize,  and  put  in  attitude,  the  elements  of 
fertility  and  power,  a  conclusive  reply  ? 

I  do  not  so  much  object  to  the  name,  or  word,  but  I  should 
certainly  insist,  for  the  purposes  of  these  States,  on  a  radical 
change  of  category,  in  the  distribution  of  precedence.  I  should 
demand  a  programme  of  culture,  drawn  out,  not  for  a  single  class 
alone,  or  for  the  parlors  or  lecture-rooms,  but  with  an  eye  to  prac- 
tical life,  the  west,  the  working-men,  the  facts  of  farms  and  jack- 
planes  and  engineers,  and  of  the  broad  range  of  the  women  also 
of  the  middle  and  working  strata,  and  with  reference  to  the  per- 
fect equality  of  women,  and  of  a  grand  and  powerful  motherhood. 
I  should  demand  of  this  programme  or  theory  a  scope  generous 
enough  to  include  the  widest  human  area.  It  must  have  for  its 
spinal  meaning  the  formation  of  a  typical  personality  of  charac- 
ter, eligible  to  the  uses  of  the  high  average  of  men — and  not  re- 
stricted by  conditions  ineligible  to  the  masses.  The  best  culture 
will  always  be  that  of  the  manly  and  courageous  instincts,  and 
loving  perceptions,  and  of  self-respect — aiming  to  form,  over  this 
continent,  an  idiocrasy  of  universalism,  which,  true  child  of 
America,  will  bring  joy  to  its  mother,  returning  to  her  in  her  own 
spirit,  recruiting  myriads  of  offspring,  able,  natural,  perceptive, 


232  COLLECT. 

tolerant,  devout  believers  in  her,  America,  and  with  some  definite 
instinct  why  and  for  what  she  has  arisen,  most  vast,  most  formi- 
dable of  historic  births,  and  is,  now  and  here,  with  wonderful 
step,  journeying  through  Time. 

The  problem,  as  it  seems  to  me,  presented  to  the  New  World* 
is,  under  permanent  law  and  order,  and  after  preserving  cohesion, 
(ensemble-Individuality,)  at  all  hazards,  to  vitalize  man's  free  play 
of  special  Personalism,  recognizing  in  it  something  that  calls  ever 
more  to  be  consider'd,  fed,  and  adopted  as  the  substratum  for  the 
best  that  belongs  to  us,  (government  indeed  is  for  it,)  including 
the  new  esthetics  of  our  future. 

To  formulate  beyond  this  present  vagueness — to  help  line  and 
put  before  us  the  species,  or  a  specimen  of  the  species,  of  the 
democratic  ethnology  of  the  future,  is  a  work  toward  which  the 
genius  of  our  land,  with  peculiar  encouragement,  invites  her  well- 
wishers.  Already  certain  limnings,  more  or  less  grotesque,  more 
or  less  fading  and  watery,  have  appear'd.  We  too,  (repressing 
doubts  and  qualms,)  will  try  our  hand. 

Attempting,  then,  however  crudely,  a  basic  model  or  portrait 
of  personality  for  general  use  for  the  manliness  of  the  States, 
(and  doubtless  that  is  most  useful  which  is  most  simple  and  com- 
prehensive for  all,  and  toned  low  enough,)  we  should  prepare  the 
canvas  well  beforehand.  Parentage  must  consider  itself  in  ad- 
vance. (Will  the  time  hasten  when  fatherhood  and  motherhood 
shall  become  a  science — and  the  noblest  science?)  To  our 
model,  a  clear-blooded,  strong-fibred  physique,  is  indispensable  ; 
the  questions  of  food,  drink,  air,  exercise,  assimilation,  digestion, 
can  never  be  intermitted.  Out  of  these  we  descry  a  well-begot- 
ten selfhood — in  youth,  fresh,  ardent,  emotional,  aspiring,  full 
of  adventure ;  at  maturity,  brave,  perceptive,  under  control, 
neither  too  talkative  nor  too  reticent,  neither  flippant  nor  som- 
bre; of  the  bodily  figure,  the  movements  easy,  the  complexion 
showing  the  best  blood,  somewhat  flush'd,  breast  expanded,  an 
erect  attitude,  a  voice  whose  sound  outvies  music,  eyes  of  calm 
and  steady  gaze,  yet  capable  also  of  flashing — and  a  general 
presence  that  holds  its  own  in  the  company  of  the  highest.  (For 
it  is  native  personality,  and  that  alone,  that  endows  a  man  to 
stand  before  presidents  or  generals,  or  in  any  distinguish'd  col- 
lection, with  aplomb — and  not  culture,  or  any  knowledge  or  in- 
tellect whatever.) 

With  regard  to  the  mental-educational  part  of  our  model,  en- 
largement of  intellect,  stores  of  cephalic  knowledge,  &c,  the 
concentration  thitherward  of  all  the  customs  of  our  age,  espe- 
cially in  America,  is  so  overweening,  and  provides  so  fully  for 
that  part,  that,  important  and  necessary  as  it  is,  it  really  needs 


DEMOCRATIC  VISTAS.  233 

nothing  from  us  here — except,  indeed,  a  phrase  of  warning  and 
restraint.  Manners,  costumes,  too,  though  important,  we  need 
not  dwell  upon  here.  Like  beauty,  grace  of  motion,  &c,  they 
are  results.  Causes,  original  things,  being  attended  to,  the  right 
manners  unerringly  follow.  Much  is  said,  among  artists,  of  "  the 
grand  style,"  as  if  it  were  a  thing  by  itself.  When  a  man,  artist 
or  whoever,  has  health,  pride,  acuteness,  noble  aspirations,  he 
has  the  motive-elements  of  the  grandest  style.  The  rest  is  but 
manipulation,  (yet  that  is  no  small  matter.) 

Leaving  still  unspecified  several  sterling  parts  of  any  model  fit 
for  the  future  personality  of  America,  I  must  not  fail,  again  and 
ever,  to  pronounce  myself  on  one,  probably  the  least  attended 
to  in  modern  times — a  hiatus,  indeed,  threatening  its  gloomiest 
consequences  after  us.  I  mean  the  simple,  unsophisticated  Con- 
science, the  primary  moral  element.  If  I  were  asked  to  specify 
in  what  quarter  lie  the  grounds  of  darkest  dread,  respecting  the 
America  of  our  hopes,  I  should  have  to  point  to  this  particular. 
I  should  demand  the  invariable  application  to  individuality,  this 
day  and  any  day,  of  that  old,  ever-true  plumb-rule  of  persons, 
eras,  nations.  Our  triumphant  modern  civilizee,  with  his  all- 
schooling  and  his  wondrous  appliances,  will  still  show  himself 
but  an  amputation  while  this  deficiency  remains.  Beyond,  (as- 
suming a  more  hopeful  tone,)  the  vertebration  of  the  manly 
and  womanly  personalism  of  our  western  world,  can  only  be, 
and  is,  indeed,  to  be,  (I  hope,)  its  all  penetrating  Religiousness. 

The  ripeness  of  Religion  is  doubtless  to  be  looked  for  in  this 
field  of  individuality,  and  is  a  result  that  no  organization  or 
church  can  ever  achieve.  As  history  is  poorly  retain'd  by  what 
the  technists  call  history,  and  is  not  given  out  from  their  pages,  ex- 
cept the  learner  has  in  himself  the  sense  of  the  well-wrapt,  never 
yet  written,  perhaps  impossible  to  be  written,  history — so  Re- 
ligion, although  casually  arrested,  and,  after  a  fashion,  preserv'd 
in  the  churches  and  creeds,  does  not  depend  at  all  upon  them, 
but  is  a  part  of  the  identified  soul,  which,  when  greatest,  knows 
not  bibles  in  the  old  way,  but  in  new  ways — the  identified  soul, 
which  can  really  confront  Religion  when  it  extricates  itself  en- 
tirely from  the  churches,  and  not  before. 

Personalism  fuses  this,  and  favors  it.  I  should  say,  indeed, 
that  only  in  the  perfect  uncontamination  and  solitariness  of 
individuality  may  the  spirituality  of  religion  positively  come 
forth  at  all.  Only  here,  and  on  such  terms,  the  meditation,  the 
devout  ecstasy,  the  soaring  flight.  Only  here,  communion  with 
the  mysteries,  the  eternal  problems,  whence?  whither?  Alone, 
and  identity,  and  the  mood — and  the  soul  emerges,  and  all  state- 

20 


234 


COLLECT. 


ments,  churches,  sermons,  melt  away  like  vapors.  Alone,  and  silent 
thought  and  awe,  and  aspiration — and  then  the  interior  conscious- 
ness, like  a  hitherto  unseen  inscription,  in  magic  ink,  beams  out 
its  wondrous  lines  to  the  sense.  Bibles  may  convey,  and  priests 
expound,  but  it  is  exclusively  for  the  noiseless  operation  of  one's 
isolated  Self,  to  enter  the  pure  ether  of  veneration,  reach  the  di- 
vine levels,  and  commune  with  the  unutterable. 

To  practically  enter  into  politics  is  an  important  part  of 
American  personalism.  To  every  young  man,  north  and  south, 
earnestly  studying  these  things,  I  should  here,  as  an  offset  to 
what  I  have  said  in  former  pages,  now  also  say,  that  may-be  to 
views  of  very  largest  scope,  after  all,  perhaps  the  political,  (per- 
haps the  literary  and  sociological,)  America  goes  best  about  its 
development  its  own  way — sometimes,  to  temporary  sight,  appal- 
ing  enough.  It  is  the  fashion  among  dillettants  and  fops  (per- 
haps I  myself  am  not  guiltless,)  to  decry  the  whole  formulation  of 
the  active  politics  of  America,  as  beyond  redemption,  and  to  be 
carefully  kept  away  from.  See  you  that  you  do  not  fall  into  this 
error.  America,  it  may  be,  is  doing  very  well  upon  the  whole,  not- 
withstanding these  antics  of  the  parties  and  their  leaders,  these  half- 
brain'd  nominees,  the  many  ignorant  ballots,  and  many  elected 
failures  and  blatherers.  It  is  the  dillettants,  and  all  who  shirk 
their  duty,  who  are  not  doing  well.  As  for  you,  I  advise  you  to 
enter  more  strongly  yet  into  politics.  I  advise  every  young  man 
to  do  so.  Always  inform  yourself;  always  do  the  best  you  can  ; 
always  vote.  Disengage  yourself  from  parties.  They  have  been 
useful,  and  to  some  extent  remain  so  ;  but  the  floating,  uncom- 
mitted electors,  farmers,  clerks,  mechanics,  the  masters  of  par- 
ties— watching  aloof,  inclining  victory  this  side  or  that  side — 
such  are  the  ones  most  needed,  present  and  future.  For  America, 
if  eligible  at  all  to  downfall  and  ruin,  is  eligible  within  herself, 
not  without ;  for  I  see  clearly  that  the  combined  foreign  world 
could  not  beat  her  down.  But  these  savage,  wolfish  parties  alarm 
me.  Owning  no  law  but  their  own  will,  more  and  more  com- 
bative,, less  and  less  tolerant  of  the  idea  of  ensemble  and  of  equal 
brotherhood,  the  perfect  equality  of  the  States,  the  ever-over- 
arching American  ideas,  it  behooves  you  to  convey  yourself  im- 
plicitly to  no  party,  nor  submit  blindly  to  their  dictators,  but 
steadily  hold  yourself  judge  and  master  over  all  of  them. 

So  much,  (hastily  toss'd  together,  and  leaving  far  more  unsaid,) 
for  an  ideal,  or  intimations  of  an  ideal,  toward  American  man- 
hood. But  the  other  sex,  in  our  land,  requires  at  least  a  basis  of 
suggestion. 

I  have  seen  a  young  American  woman,  one  of  a  large  family 


DEMOCRATIC  VISTAS. 


235 


of  daughters,  who,  some  years  since,  migrated  from  her  meagre 
country  home  to  one  of  the  northern  cities,  to  gain  her  own  sup- 
port. She  soon  became  an  expert  seamstress,  but  finding  the 
employment  too  confining  for  health  and  comfort,  she  went 
boldly  to  work  for  others,  to  house-keep,  cook,  clean,  &c.  After 
trying  several  places,  she  fell  upon  one  where  she  was  suited.  She 
has  told  me  that  she  finds  nothing  degrading  in  her  position  ;  it  is 
not  inconsistent  with  personal  dignity,  self-respect,  and  the  re- 
spect of  others.  She  confers  benefits  and  receives  them.  She 
has  good  health  ;  her  presence  itself  is  healthy  and  bracing;  her 
character  is  unstain'd;  she  has  made  herself  understood,  and 
preserves  her  independence,  and  has  been  able  to  help  her  pa- 
rents, and  educate  and  get  places  for  her  sisters;  and  her  course 
of  life  is  not  without  opportunities  for  mental  improvement,  and 
of  much  quiet,  uncosting  happiness  and  love. 

I  have  seen  another  woman  who,  from  taste  and  necessity  con- 
join'd,  has  gone  into  practical  affairs,  carries  on  a  mechanical 
business,  partly  works  at  it  herself,  dashes  out  more  and  more  into 
real  hardy  life,  is  not  abash'd  by  the  coarseness  of  the  contact, 
knows  how  to  be  firm  and  silent  at  the  same  time,  holds  her  own 
with  unvarying  coolness  and  decorum,  and  will  compare,  any 
day,  with  superior  carpenters,  farmers,  and  even  boatmen  and 
drivers.  For  all  that,  she  has  not  lost  the  charm  of  the  womanly 
nature,  but  preserves  and  bears  it  fully,  though  through  such 
rugged  presentation. 

Then  there  is  the  wife  of  a  mechanic,  mother  of  two  children, 
a  woman  of  merely  passable  English  education,  but  of  fine  wit, 
with  all  her  sex's  grace  and  intuitions,  who  exhibits,  indeed,  such 
a  noble  female  personality,  that  I  am  fain  to  record  it  here.  Never 
abnegating  her  own  proper  independence,  but  always  genially 
preserving  it,  and  what  belongs  to  it — cooking,  washing,  child- 
nursing,  house-tending — she  beams  sunshine  out  of  all  these  du- 
ties, and  makes  them  illustrious.  Physiologically  sweet  and  sound, 
loving  work,  practical,  she  yet  knows  that  there  are  intervals, 
however  few,  devoted  to  recreation,  music,  leisure,  hospitality — 
and  affords  such  intervals.  Whatever  she  does,  and  wherever  she 
is,  that  charm,  that  indescribable  perfume  of  genuine  woman- 
hood attends  her,  goes  with  her,  exhales  from  her,  which  belongs 
of  right  to  all  the  sex,  and  is,  or  ought  to  be,  the  invariable  at- 
mosphere and  common  aureola  of  old  as  well  as  young. 

My  clear  mother  once  described  to  me  a  resplendent  person, 
down  on  Long  Island,  whom  she  knew  in  early  days.  She  was 
known  by  the  name  of  the  Peacemaker.  She  was  well  toward 
eighty  years  old,  of  happy  and  sunny  temperament,  had  always 
lived  on  a  farm,  and  was  very  neighborly,  sensible  and  discreet, 


236  COLLECT. 

an  invariable  and  welcom'd  favorite,  especially  with  young  mar- 
ried women.  She  had  numerous  children  and  grandchildren. 
She  was  uneducated,  but  possess'd  a  native  dignity.  She  had 
come  to  be  a  tacitly  agreed  upon  domestic  regulator,  judge,  set- 
tler of  difficulties,  shepherdess,  and  reconciler  in  the  land.  She 
was  a  sight  to  draw  near  and  look  upon,  with  her  large  figure,  her 
profuse  snow-white  hair,  (uncoifd  by  any  head-dress  or  cap,) 
dark  eyes,  clear  complexion,  sweet  breath,  and  peculiar  personal 
magnetism. 

The  foregoing  portraits,  I  admit,  are  frightfully  out  of  line 
from  these  imported  models  of  womanly  personality — the  stock 
feminine  characters  of  the  current  novelists,  or  of  the  foreign 
court  poems,  (Ophelias,  Enids,  prinoesses,  or  ladies  of  one  thing 
or  another,)  which  fill  the  envying  dreams  of  so  many  poor  girls, 
and  are  accepted  by  our  men,  too,  as  supreme  ideals  of  feminine 
excellence  to  be  sought  after.  But  I  present  mine  just  for  a 
change. 

Then  there  are  mutterings,  (we  will  not  now  stop  to  heed  them 
here,  but  they  must  be  heeded,)  of  something  more  revolutionary. 
The  day  is  coming  when  the  deep  questions  of  woman's  entrance 
amid  the  arenas  of  practical  life,  politics,  the  suffrage,  &c,  will 
not  only  be  argued  all  around  us,  but  may  be  put  to  decision,  and 
real  experiment. 

Of  course,  in  these  States,  for  both  man  and  woman,  we  must 
entirely  recast  the  types  of  highest  personality  from  what  the  ori- 
ental, feudal,  ecclesiastical  worlds  bequeath  us,  and  which  yet  pos- 
sess the  imaginative  and  esthetic  fields  of  the  United  States,  pic- 
torial and  melodramatic,  not  without  use  as  studies,  but  making 
sad  work,  and  forming  a  strange  anachronism  upon  the  scenes 
and  exigencies  around  us.  Of  course,  the  old  undying  elements 
remain.  The  task  is,  to  successfully  adjust  them  to  new  combi- 
nations, our  own  days.  Nor  is  this  so  incredible.  I  can  conceive 
a  community,  to-day  and  here,  in  which,  on  a  sufficient  scale,  the 
perfect  personalities,  without  noise  meet;  say  in  some  pleasant 
western  settlement  or  town,  where  a  couple  of  hundred  best  men 
and  women,  of  ordinary  worldly  status,  have  by  luck  been  drawn 
together,  with  nothing  extra  of  genius  or  wealth,  but  virtuous, 
chaste,  industrious,  cheerful,  resolute,  friendly  and  devout.  I 
can  conceive  such  a  community  organized  in  running  order, 
powers  judiciously  delegated — farming,  building,  trade,  courts, 
mails,  schools,  elections,  all  attended  to ;  and  then  the  rest  of 
life,  the  main  thing,  freely  branching  and  blossoming  in  each  in- 
dividual, and  bearing  golden  fruit.  I  can  see  there,  in  every 
young  and  old  man,  after  his  kind,  and  in  every  woman  after 
hers,  a  true  personality,  develop' d,  exercised  proportionately  in 


DEMOCRATIC  VISTAS.  237 

body,  mind,  and  spirit.  I  can  imagine  this  case  as  one  not  nec- 
essarily rare  or  difficult,  but  in  buoyant  accordance  with  the  muni- 
cipal and  general  requirements  of  our  times.  And  I  can  realize 
in  it  the  culmination  of  something  better  than  any  stereotyped 
eclat  of  history  or  poems.  Perhaps,  unsung,  undramatized,  unput 
in  essays  or  biographies — perhaps  even  some  such  community 
already  exists,  in  Ohio,  Illinois,  Missouri,  or  somewhere,  practi- 
cally fulfilling  itself,  and  thus  outvying,  in  cheapest  vulgar  life, 
all  that  has  been  hitherto  shown  in  best  ideal  pictures. 

In  short,  and  to  sum  up,  America,  betaking  herself  to  forma- 
tive action,  (as  it  is  about  time  for  more  solid  achievement,  and 
less  windy  promise,)  must,  for  her  purposes,  cease  to  recognize  a 
theory  of  character  grown  of  feudal  aristocracies,  or  form'd  by 
merely  literary  standards,  or  from  any  ultramarine,  full-dress  for- 
mulas of  culture,  polish,  caste,  &c,  and  must  sternly  promulgate 
her  own  new  standard,  yet  old  enough,  and  accepting  the  old, 
the  perennial  elements,  and  combining  them  into  groups,  unities, 
appropriate  to  the  modern,  the  democratic,  the  west,  and  to  the 
practical  occasions  and  needs  of  our  own  cities,  and  of  the  agri- 
cultural regions.  Ever  the  most  precious  in  the  common.  Ever 
the  fresh  breeze  of  field,  or  hill,  or  lake,  is  more  than  any  palpi- 
tation of  fans,  though  of  ivory,  and  redolent  with  perfume ;  and 
the  air  is  more  than  the  costliest  perfumes. 

And  now,  for  fear  of  mistake,  we  may  not  intermit  to  beg  our 
absolution  from  all  that  genuinely  is,  or  goes  along  with,  even 
Culture.  Pardon  us,  venerable  shade !  if  we  have  seem'd  to 
speak  lightly  of  your  office.  The  whole  civilization  of  the  earth, 
we  know,  is  yours,  with  all  the  glory  and  the  light  thereof.  It 
is,  indeed,  in  your  own  spirit,  and  seeking  to  tally  the  loftiest 
teachings  of  it,  that  we  aim  these  poor  utterances.  For  you,  too, 
mighty  minister  !  know  that  there  is  something  greater  than  you, 
namely,  the  fresh,  eternal  qualities  of  Being.  From  them,  and 
by  them,  as  you,  at  your  best,  we  too  evoke  the  last,  the  needed 
help,  to  vitalize  our  country  and  our  days.  Thus  we  pronounce 
not  so  much  against  the  principle  of  culture ;  we  only  supervise 
it,  and  promulge  along  with  it,  as  deep,  perhaps  a  deeper,  prin- 
ciple. As  we  have  shown  the  New  World  including  in  itself  the 
all-leveling  aggregate  of  democracy,  we  show  it  also  including  the 
all-varied,  all-permitting,  all-free  theorem  of  individuality,  and 
erecting  therefor  a  lofty  and  hitherto  unoccupied  framework  or 
platform,  broad  enough  for  all,  eligible  to  every  farmer  and  me- 
chanic— to  the  female  equally  with  the  male — a  towering  self- 
hood, not  physically  perfect  only — not  satisfied  with  the  mere 
mind's  and  learning's  stores,  but  religious,  possessing  the  idea  of 


238 


COLLECT. 


the  infinite,  (rudder  and  compass  sure  amid  this  troublous  voyage, 
o'er  darkest,  wildest  wave,  through  stormiest  wind,  of  man's  or 
nation's  progress) — realizing,  above  the  rest,  that  known  hu- 
manity, in  deepest  sense,  is  fair  adhesion  to  itself,  for  purposes 
beyond — and  that,  finally,  the  personality  of  mortal  life  is  most 
important  with  reference  to  the  immortal,  the  unknown,  the 
spiritual,  the  only  permanently  real,  which  as  the  ocean  waits  for 
and  receives  the  rivers,  waits  for  us  each  and  all. 

Much  is  there,  yet,  demanding  line  and  outline  in  our  Vistas, 
not  only  on  these  topics,  but  others  quite  unwritten.  Indeed, 
we  could  talk  the  matter,  and  expand  it,  through  lifetime.  But 
it  is  necessary  to  return  to  our  original  premises.  In  view  of 
them,  we  have  again  pointedly  to  confess  that  all  the  objective 
grandeurs  of  the  world,  for  highest  purposes,  yield  themselves  up, 
and  depend  on  mentality  alone.  Here,  and  here  only,  all  bal- 
ances, all  rests.  For  the  mind,  which  alone  builds  the  permanent 
edifice,  haughtily  builds  it  to  itself.  By  it,  with  what  follows  it, 
are  convey'd  to  mortal  sense  the  culminations  of  the  material- 
istic, the  known,  and  a  prophecy  of  the  unknown.  To  take  ex- 
pression, to  incarnate,  to  endow  a  literature  with  grand  and 
archetypal  models — to  fill  with  pride  and  love  the  utmost  capacity, 
and  to  achieve  spiritual  meanings,  and  suggest  the  future — these, 
and  these  only,  satisfy  the  soul.  We  must  not  say  one  word 
against  real  materials  ;  but  the  wise  know  that  they  do  not  become 
real  till  touched  by  emotions,  the  mind.  Did  we  call  the  latter 
imponderable?  Ah,  let  us  rather  proclaim  that  the  slightest 
song-tune,  the  countless  ephemera  of  passions  arous'd  by  orators 
and  tale-tellers,  are  more  dense,  more  weighty  than  the  engines 
there  in  the  great  factories,  or  the  granite  blocks  in  their  foun- 
dations. 

Approaching  thus  the  momentous  spaces,  and  considering  with 
reference  to  a  new  and  greater  personalism,  the  needs  and  possi- 
bilities of  American  imaginative  literature,  through  the  medium- 
light  of  what  we  have  already  broach'd,  it  will  at  once  be  appre- 
ciated that  a  vast  gulf  of  difference  separates  the  present  accepted 
condition  of  these  spaces,  inclusive  of  what  is  floating  in  them, 
from  any  condition  adjusted  to,  or  fit  for,  the  world,  the  America, 
there  sought  to  be  indicated,  and  the  copious  races  of  complete 
men  and  women,  along  these  Vistas  crudely  outlined.  It  is,  in 
some  sort,  no  less  a  difference  than  lies  between  that  long-con- 
tinued nebular  state  and  vagueness  of  the  astronomical  worlds, 
compared  with  the  subsequent  state,  the  definitely-form'd  worlds 
themselves,  duly  compacted,  clustering  in  systems,  hung  up  there, 
chandeliers  of  the  universe,  beholding  and  mutually  lit  by  each 
other's  lights,  serving  for  ground  of  all  substantial  foothold,  all 


DEMOCRATIC  VISTAS. 


239 


vulgar  uses — yet  serving  still  more  as  an  undying  chain  and 
echelon  of  spiritual  proofs  and  shows.  A  boundless  field  to  fill ! 
A  new  creation,  with  needed  orbic  works  launch'd  forth,  to  re- 
volve in  free  and  lawful  circuits — to  move,  self-poised,  through 
the  ether,  and  shine  like  heaven's  own  suns !  With  such,  and 
nothing  less,  we  suggest  that  New  World  literature,  fit  to  rise 
upon,  cohere,  and  signalize  in  time,  these  States. 

What,  however,  do  we  more  definitely  mean  by  New  World 
literature?  Are  we  not  doing  well  enough  here  already?  Are 
not  the  United  States  this  day  busily  using,  working,  more  print- 
er's type,  more  presses,  than  any  other  country?  uttering  and 
absorbing  more  publications  than  any  other?  Do  not  our  pub- 
lishers fatten  quicker  and  deeper?  (helping  themselves,  under 
shelter  of  a  delusive  and  sneaking  law,  or  rather  absence  of  law, 
to  most  of  their  forage,  poetical,  pictorial,  historical,  romantic, 
even  comic,  without  money  and  without  price — and  fiercely  re- 
sisting the  timidest  proposal  to  pay  for  it.)  Many  will  come  un- 
der this  delusion — but  my  purpose  is  to  dispel  it.  I  say  that  a 
nation  may  hold  and  circulate  rivers  and  oceans  of  very  readable 
print,  journals,  magazines,  novels,  library-books,  "poetry,"  &c. 
— such  as  the  States  to-day  possess  and  circulate — of  unquestiona- 
ble aid  and  value — hundreds  of  new  volumes  annually  composed 
and  brought  out  here,  respectable  enough,  indeed  unsurpass'd  in 
smartness  and  erudition — with  further  hundreds,  or  rather  mil- 
lions, (as  by  free  forage  or  theft  aforemention'd,)  also  thrown 
into  the  market — and  yet,  all  the  while,  the  said  nation,  land, 
strictly  speaking,  may  possess  no  literature  at  all. 

Repeating  our  inquiry,  what,  then,  do  we  mean  by  real  litera- 
ture ?  especially  the  democratic  literature  of  the  future  ?  Hard 
questions  to  meet.  The  clues  are  inferential,  and  turn  us  to  the 
past.  At  best,  we  can  only  offer  suggestions,  comparisons,  cir- 
cuits. 

It  must  still  be  reiterated,  as,  for  the  purpose  of  these  memo- 
randa, the  deep  lesson  of  history  and  time,  that  all  else  in  the 
contributions  of  a  nation  or  age,  through  its  politics,  materials, 
heroic  personalities,  military  eclat,  &c,  remains  crude,  and  de- 
fers, in  any  close  and  thorough-going  estimate,  until  vitalized 
by  national,  original  archetypes  in  literature.  They  only  put 
the  nation  in  form,  finally  tell  anything — prove,  complete  any- 
thing— perpetuate  anything.  Without  doubt,  some  of  the  richest 
and  most  powerful  and  populous  communities  of  the  antique 
world,  and  some  of  the  grandest  personalities  and  events,  have, 
to  after  and  present  times,  left  themselves  entirely  unbequeath'd. 
Doubtless,  greater  than  any  that  have  come  down  to  us,  were 
among  those  lands,  heroisms,  persons,  that  have  not  come  down 


240 


COLLECT. 


to  us  at  all,  even  by  name,  date,  or  location.  Others  have  ar- 
rived safely,  as  from  voyages  over  wide,  century-stretching  seas. 
The  little  ships,  the  miracles  that  have  buoy'd  them,  and  by  in- 
credible chances  safely  convey'd  them,  (or  the  best  of  them, 
their  meaning  and  essence,)  over  long  wastes,  darkness,  lethargy, 
ignorance,  &c,  have  been  a  few  inscriptions — a  few  immortal 
compositions,  small  in  size,  yet  compassing  what  measureless 
values  of  reminiscence,  contemporary  portraitures,  manners, 
idioms  and  beliefs,  with  deepest  inference,  hint  and  thought,  to 
tie  and  touch  forever  the  old,  new  body,  and  the  old,  new  soul  ! 
These  !  and  still  these  !  bearing  the  freight  so  dear — dearer  than 
pride — dearer  than  love.  All  the  best  experience  of  humanity, 
folded,  saved,  freighted  to  us  here.  Some  of  these  tiny  ships  we  call 
Old  and  New  Testament,  Homer,  Eschylus,  Plato,  Juvenal,  &c. 
Precious  minims  !  I  think,  if  were  forced  to  choose,  rather  than 
have  you,  and  the  likes  of  you,  and  what  belongs  to,  and  has 
grown  of  you,  blotted  out  and  gone,  we  could  better  afford,  ap- 
paling  as  that  would  be,  to  lose  all  actual  ships,  this  day  fasten'd 
by  wharf,  or  floating  on  wave,  and  see  them,  with  all  their  car- 
goes, scuttled  and  sent  to  the  bottom. 

Gather'd  by  geniuses  of  city,  race  or  age,  and  put  by  them  in 
highest  of  art's  forms,  namely,  the  literary  form,  the  peculiar 
combinations  and  the  outshows  of  that  city,  age,  or  race,  its  par- 
ticular modes  of  the  universal  attributes  and  passions,  its  faiths, 
heroes,  lovers  and  gods,  wars,  traditions,  struggles,  crimes,  emo- 
tions, joys,  (or  the  subtle  spirit  of  these,)  having  been  pass'd  on 
to  us  to  illumine  our  own  selfhood,  and  its  experiences — what 
they  supply,  indispensable  and  highest,  if  taken  away,  nothing 
else  in  all  the  world's  boundless  storehouses  could  make  up  to 
us,  or  ever  again  return. 

For  us,  along  the  great  highways  of  time,  those  monuments 
stand — those  forms  of  majesty  and  beauty.  For  us  those  beacons 
burn  through  all  the  nights.  Unknown  Egyptians,  graving  hier- 
oglyphs; Hindus,  with  hymn  and  apothegm  and  endless  epic; 
Hebrew  prophet,  with  spirituality,  as  in  flashes  of  lightning,  con- 
science like  red-hot  iron,  plaintive  songs  and  screams  of  vengeance 
for  tyrannies  and  enslavement ;  Christ,  with  bent  head,  brooding 
love  and  peace,  like  a  dove ;  Greek,  creating  eternal  shapes  of 
physical  and  esthetic  proportion ;  Roman,  lord  of  satire,  the 
sword,  and  the  codex; — of  the  figures,  some  far  off  and  veil'd, 
others  nearer  and  visible  ;  Dante,  stalking  with  lean  form,  nothing 
but  fibre,  not  a  grain  of  superfluous  flesh ;  Angelo,  and  the  great 
painters,  architects,  musicians ;  rich  Shakspere,  luxuriant  as  the 
sun,  artist  and  singer  of  feudalism  in  its  sunset,  with  all  the  gor- 
geous colors,  owner  thereof,  and  using  them  at  will ;  and  so  to 


DEMOCRATIC  VISTAS. 


241 


such  as  German  Kant  and  Hegel,  where  they,  though  near  us, 
leaping  over  the  ages,  sit  again,  impassive,  imperturbable,  like  the 
Egyptian  gods.  Of  these,  and  the  like  of  these,  is  it  too  much, 
indeed,  to  return  to  our  favorite  figure,  and  view  them  as  orbs 
and  systems  of  orbs,  moving  in  free  paths  in  the  spaces  of  that 
other  heaven,  the  kosmic  intellect,  the  soul? 

Ye  powerful  and  resplendent  ones  !  ye  were,  in  your  atmos- 
pheres, grown  not  for  America,  but  rather  for  her  foes,  the  feudal 
and  the  old — while  our  genius  is  democratic  and  modern.  Yet 
could  ye,  indeed,  but  breathe  your  breath  of  life  into  our  New 
World's  nostrils — not  to  enslave  us,  as  now,  but,  for  our  needs, 
to  breed  a  spirit  like  your  own — perhaps,  (dare  we  to  say  it  ?) 
to  dominate,  even  destroy,  what  you  yourselves  have  left !  On 
your  plane,  and  no  less,  but  even  higher  and  wider,  must  we  mete 
and  measure  for  to-day  and  here.  I  demand  races  of  orbic  bards, 
with  unconditional  uncompromising  sway.  Come  forth,  sweet 
democratic  despots  of  the  west ! 

By  points  like  these  we,  in  reflection,  token  what  we  mean  by 
any  land's  or  people's  genuine  literature.  And  thus  compared 
and  tested,  judging  amid  the  influence  of  loftiest  products  only, 
what  do  our  current  copious  fields  of  print,  covering  in  manifold 
forms,  the  United  States,  better,  for  an  analogy,  present,  than,  as 
in  certain  regions  of  the  sea,  those  spreading,  undulating  masses 
of  squid,  through  which  the  whale  swimming,  with  head  half  out, 
feeds? 

Not  but  that  doubtless  our  current  so-called  literature,  (like 
an  endless  supply  of  small  coin,)  performs  a  certain  service,  and 
may-be,  too,  the  service  needed  for  the  time,  (the  preparation- 
service,  as  children  learn  to  spell.)  Everybody  reads,  and  truly 
nearly  everybody  writes,  either  books,  or  for  the  magazines  or 
journals.  The  matter  has  magnitude,  too,  after  a  sort.  But  is 
it  really  advancing  ?  or,  has  it  advanced  for  a  long  while  ?  There 
is  something  impressive  about  the  huge  editions  of  the  dailies 
and  weeklies,  the  mountain-stacks  of  white  paper  piled  in  the 
press-vaults,  and  the  proud,  crashing,  ten-cylinder  presses,  which 
I  can  stand  and  watch  any  time  by  the  half  hour.  Then,  (though 
the  States  in  the  field  of  imagination  present  not  a  single  first- 
class  work,  not  a  single  great  literatus,)  the  main  objects,  to  amuse, 
to  titillate,  to  pass  away  time,  to  circulate  the  news,  and  rumors 
of  news,  to  rhyme  and  read  rhyme,  are  yet  attain'd,  and  on  a  scale 
of  infinity.  To-day,  in  books,  in  the  rivalry  of  writers,  especially 
novelists,  success,  (so-call'd,)  is  for  him.  or  her  who  strikes  the 
mean  flat  average,  the  sensational  appetite  for  stimulus,  incident, 
persiflage,  &c,  and  depicts,  to  the  common  calibre,  sensual,  ex- 


21 


242 


COLLECT. 


terior  life.  To  such,  or  the  luckiest  of  them,  as  we  see,  the  audi- 
ences are  limitless  and  profitable ;  but  they  cease  presently.  While 
this  day,  or  any  day,  to  workmen  portraying  interior  or  spiritual 
life,  the  audiences  were  limited,  and  often  laggard — but  they  last 
forever. 

Compared  with  the  past,  our  modern  science  soars,  and  our 
journals  serve — but  ideal  and  even  ordinary  romantic  literature, 
does  not,  I  think,  substantially  advance.  Behold  the  prolific 
brood  of  the  contemporary  novel,  magazine-tale,  theatre-play, 
&c.  The  same  endless  thread  of  tangled  and  superlative  love- 
story,  inherited,  apparently  from  the  Amadises  and  Palmerins  of 
the  13th,  14th,  and  15th  centuries  over  there  in  Europe.  The 
costumes  and  associations  brought  down  to  date,  the  seasoning 
hotter  and  more  varied,  the  dragons  and  ogres  left  out — but  the 
thing,  I  should  say,  has  not  advanced — is  just  as  sensational,  just 
asstrain'd — remains  about  the  same,  nor  more,  nor  less. 

What  is  the  reason  our  time,  our  lands,  that  we  see  no  fresh 
local  courage,  sanity,  of  our  own — the  Mississippi,  stalwart 
Western  men,  real  mental  and  physical  facts,  Southerners,  &c, 
in  the  body  of  our  literature  ?  especially  the  poetic  part  of  it. 
But  always,  instead,  a  parcel  of  dandies  and  ennuyees,  dapper 
little  gentlemen  from  abroad,  who  flood  us  with  their  thin  senti- 
ment of  parlors,  parasols,  piano-songs,  tinkling  rhymes,  the  five- 
hundredth  importation — or  whimpering  and  crying  about  some- 
thing, chasing  one  aborted  conceit  after  another,  and  forever 
occupied  in  dyspeptic  amours  with  dyspeptic  women.  While, 
current  and  novel,  the  grandest  events  and  revolutions,  and 
stormiest  passions  of  history,  are  crossing  to-day  with  un paral- 
lel'd  rapidity  and  magnificence  over  the  stages  of  our  own  and 
all  the  continents,  offering  new  materials,  opening  new  vistas, 
with  largest  needs,  inviting  the  daring  launching  forth  of  con- 
ceptions in  literature,  inspired  by  them,  soaring  in  highest  re- 
gions, serving  art  in  its  highest,  (which  is  only  the  other  name 
for  serving  God,  and  serving  humanity,)  where  is  the  man  of 
letters,  where  is  the  book,  with  any  nobler  aim  than  to  follow  in 
the  old  track,  repeat  what  has  been  said  before — and,  as  its  ut- 
most triumph,  sell  well,  and  be  erudite  or  elegant? 

Mark  the  roads,  the  processes,  through  which  these  States  have 
arrived,  standing  easy,  henceforth  ever-equal,  ever-compact,  in 
their  range  to-day.  European  adventures  ?  the  most  antique  ? 
Asiatic  or  African?  old  history — miracles — romances?  Rather, 
our  own  unquestion'd  facts.  They  hasten,  incredible,  blazing 
bright  as  fire.  From  the  deeds  and  days  of  Columbus  down  to 
the  present,  and  including  the  present — and  especially  the  late 
Secession  war — when  I  con  them,  I  feel,  every  leaf,  like  stopping 


DEMOCRATIC  VISTAS. 


243 


to  see  if  I  have  not  made  a  mistake,  and  fall'n  on  the  splendid 
figments  of  some  dream.  But  it  is  no  dream.  We  stand,  live, 
move,  in  the  "huge  flow  of  our  age's  materialism — in  its  spiritu- 
ality. We  have  had  founded  for  us  the  most  positive  of  lands. 
The  founders  have  pass'd  to  other  spheres — but  what  are  these 
terrible  duties  they  have  left  us  ? 

Their  politics  the  United  States  have,  in  my  opinion,  with  all 
their  faults,  already  substantially  established,  for  good,  on  their 
own  native,  sound,  long-vista'd  principles,  never  to  be  overturn'd, 
offering  a  sure  basis  for  all  the  rest.  With  that,  their  future  re- 
ligious forms,  sociology,  literature,  teachers,  schools,  costumes, 
&c,  are  of  course  to  make  a  compact  whole,  uniform,  on  tally- 
ing principles.  For  how  can  we  remain,  divided,  contradicting 
ourselves,  this  way  ?*  I  say  we  can  only  attain  harmony  and  sta- 
bility by  consulting  ensemble  and  the  ethic  purports,  and  faith- 
fully building  upon  them.  For  the  New  World,  indeed,  after 
two  grand  stages  of  preparation-strata,  I  perceive  that  now  a 
third  stage,  being  ready  for,  (and  without  which  the  other  two 
were  useless,)  with  unmistakable  signs  appears.  The  First  stage 
was  the  planning  and  putting  on  record  the  political  foundation 
rights  of  immense  masses  of  people — indeed  all  people — in  the 
organization  of  republican  National,  State,  and  municipal  gov- 
ernments, all  constructed  with  reference  to  each,  and  each  to  all. 
This  is  the  American  programme,  not  for  classes,  but  for  univer- 
sal man,  and  is  embodied  in  the  compacts  of  the  Declaration  of 
Independence,  and,  as  it  began  and  has  now  grown,  writh  its 
amendments,  the  Federal  Constitution — and  in  the  State  govern- 
ments, with  all  their  interiors,  and  with  general  suffrage  ;  those 
having  the  sense  not  only  of  what  is  in  themselves,  but  that  their 
certain  several  things  started,  planted,  hundreds  of  others  in  the 
same  direction  duly  arise  and  follow.  The  Second  stage  relates 
to  material  prosperity,  wealth,  produce,  labor-saving  machines, 
iron,  cotton,  local,  State  and  continental  railways,  intercommu- 
nication and  trade  with  all  lands,  steamships,  mining,  general 
employment,  organization  of  great  cities,  cheap  appliances  for 
comfort,  numberless  technical  schools,  books,  newspapers,  a  cur- 
rency for  money  circulation,  &c.    The  Third  stage,  rising  out  of 

*  Note,  to-day,  an  instructive,  curious  spectacle  and  conflict.  Science, 
(twin,  in  its  fields,  of  Democracy  in  its) — Science,  'testing  absolutely  all 
thoughts,  all  works,  has  already  burst  well  upon  the  world — a  sun,  mounting, 
most  illuminating,  most  glorious — surely  never  again  to  set.  But  against  it, 
deeply  entrench'd,  holding  possession,  yet  remains,  (not  only  through  the 
churches  and  schools, but  by  imaginative  literature,  and  unregenerate  poetry,) 
the  fossil  theology  of  the  mythic-materialistic,  superstitious,  untaught  and 
credulous,  fable-loving,  primitive  ages  of  humanity-. 


244  COLLECT. 

the  previous  ones,  to  make  them  and  all  illustrious,  I,  now,  for 
one,  promulge,  announcing  a  native  expression-spirit,  getting  into 
form,  adult,  and  through  mentality,  for  these  States,  self-con- 
tain'd,  different  from  others,  more  expansive,  more  rich  and  free, 
to  be  evidenced  by  original  authors  and  poets  to  come,  by 
American  personalities,  plenty  of  them,  male  and  female,  trav- 
ersing the  States,  none  excepted — and  by  native  superber  tab- 
leaux and  growths  of  language,  songs,  operas,  orations,  lectures, 
architecture — and  by  a  sublime  and  serious  Religious  Democracy 
sternly  taking  command,  dissolving  the  old,  sloughing  off  sur- 
faces, and  from  its  own  interior  and  vital  principles,  reconstruct- 
ing, democratizing  society. 

For  America,  type  of  progress,  and  of  essential  faith  in  man, 
above  all  his  errors  and  wickedness — few  suspect  how  deep,  how 
deep  it  really  strikes.  The  world  evidently  supposes,  and  we 
have  evidently  supposed  so  too,  that  the  States  are  merely  to 
achieve  the  equal  franchise,  an  elective  government — to  inaugu- 
rate the  respectability  of  labor,  and  become  a  nation  of  practical 
operatives,  law-abiding,  orderly  and  well- off.  Yes,  those  are  in- 
deed parts  of  the  task  of  America ;  but  they  not  only  do  not  ex- 
haust the  progressive  conception,  but  rather  arise,  teeming  with 
it,  as  the  mediums  of  deeper,  higher  progress.  Daughter  of 
a  physical  revolution — mother  of  the  true  revolutions,  which  are 
of  the  interior  life,  and  of  the  arts.  For  so  long  as  the  spirit  is 
not  changed,  any  change  of  appearance  is  of  no  avail. 

The  old  men,  I  remember  as  a  boy,  were  always  talking  of 
American  independence.  What  is  independence?  Freedom 
from  all  laws  or  bonds  except  those  of  one's  own  being,  con- 
trol'd  by  the  universal  ones.  To  lands,  to  man,  to  woman,  what 
is  there  at  last  to  each,  but  the  inherent  soul,  nativity,  idiocrasy, 
free,  highest-poised,  soaring  its  own  flight,  following  out  itself? 

At  present,  these  States,  in  their  theology  and  social  standards, 
(of  greater  importance  than  their  political  institutions,)  are  en- 
tirely held  possession  of  by  foreign  lands.  We  see  the  sons  and 
daughters  of  the  New  World,  ignorant  of  its  genius,  not  yet  in- 
augurating the  native,  the  universal,  and  the  near,  still  importing 
the  distant,  the  partial,  and  the  dead.  We  see  London,  Paris, 
Italy — not  original,  superb,  as  where  they  belong — but  second- 
hand here,  where  they  do  not  belong.  We  see  the  shreds  of  He- 
brews, Romans,  Greeks ;  but  where,  on  her  own  soil,  do  we  see, 
in  any  faithful,  highest,  proud  expression,  America  herself?  I 
sometimes  question  whether  she  has  a  corner  in  her  own  house. 

Not  but  that  in  one  sense,  and  a  very  grand  one,  good  theology, 
good  art,  or  good  literature,  has  certain  features  shared  in  com- 
mon.    The  combination  fraternizes,  ties  the  races — is,  in  many 


DEMOCRATIC  VISTAS. 


245 


particulars,  under  laws  applicable  indifferently  to  all,  irrespective 
of  climate  or  date,  and,  from  whatever  source,  appeals  to  emo- 
tions, pride,  love,  spirituality,  common  to  humankind.  Never- 
theless, they  touch  a  man  closest,  (perhaps  only  actually  touch 
him,)  even  in  these,  in  their  expression  through  autochthonic 
lights  and  shades,  flavors,  fondnesses,  aversions,  specific  incidents, 
illustrations,  out  of  his  own  nationality,  geography,  surroundings, 
antecedents,  &c.  The  spirit  and  the  form  are  one,  and  depend 
far  more  on  association,  identity  and  place,  than  is  supposed. 
Subtly  interwoven  with  the  materiality  and  personality  of  a  land, 
a  race — Teuton,  Turk,  Californian,  or  what  not — there  is  always 
something — I  can  hardly  tell  what  it  is — history  but  describes  the 
results  of  it — it  is  the  same  as  the  untellable  look  of  some  human 
faces.  Nature,  too,  in  her  stolid  forms,  is  full  of  it — but  to  most 
it  is  there  a  secret.  This  something  is  rooted  in  the  invisible 
roots,  the  profoundest  meanings  of  that  place,  race,  or  nation- 
ality ;  and  to  absorb  and  again  effuse  it,  uttering  words  and  pro- 
ducts as  from  its  midst,  and  carrying  it  into  highest  regions,  is 
the  work,  or  a  main  part  of  the  work,  of  any  country's  true 
author,  poet,  historian,  lecturer,  and  perhaps  even  priest  and 
philosoph.  Here,  and  here  only,  are  the  foundations  for  our 
really  valuable  and  permanent  verse,  drama,  &c. 

But  at  present,  (judged  by  any  higher  scale  than  that  which 
finds  the  chief  ends  of  existence  to  be  to  feverishly  make  money 
during  one-half  of  it,  and  by  some  "amusement,"  or  perhaps 
foreign  travel,  flippantly  kill  time,  the  other  half,)  and  con- 
sider'd  with  reference  to  purposes  of  patriotism,  health,  a  noble 
personality,  religion,  and  the  democratic  adjustments,  all  these 
swarms  of  poems,  literary  magazines,  dramatic  plays,  resultant  so 
far  from  American  intellect,  and  the  formation  of  our  best  ideas, 
are  useless  and  a  mockery.  They  strengthen  and  nourish  no  one, 
express  nothing  characteristic,  give  decision  and  purpose  to  no 
one,  and  suffice  only  the  lowest  level  of  vacant  minds. 

Of  what  is  called  the  drama,  or  dramatic  presentation  in  the 
United  States,  as  now  put  forth  at  the  theatres,  I  should  say  it 
deserves  to  be  treated  with  the  same  gravity,  and  on  a  par  with 
the  questions  of  ornamental  confectionery  at  public  dinners,  or 
the  arrangement  of  curtains  and  hangings  in  a  ball  room — nor 
more,  nor  less.  Of  the  other,  I  will  not  insult  the  reader's  intel- 
ligence, (once  really  entering  into  the  atmosphere  of  these  Vistas,) 
by  supposing  it  necessary  to  show,  in  detail,  why  the  copious 
dribble,  either  of  our  little  or  well-known  rhymesters,  does  not 
fulfil,  in  any  respect,  the  needs  and  august  occasions  of  this  land. 
America  demands  a  poetry  that  is  bold,  modern,  and  all-surround- 
ing and  kosmical,  as  she  is  herself.     It  must  in  no  respect  ignore 


246  COLLECT. 

science  or  the  modern,  but  inspire  itself  with  science  and  the 
modern.  It  must  bend  its  vision  toward  the  future,  more  than 
the  past.  Like  America,  it  must  extricate  itself  from  even  the 
greatest  models  of  the  past,  and,  while  courteous  to  them,  must 
have  entire  faith  in  itself,  and  the  products  of  its  own  democratic 
spirit  only.  Like  her,  it  must  place  in  the  van,  and  hold  up  at 
all  hazards,  the  banner  of  the  divine  pride  of  man  in  himself,  (the 
radical  foundation  of  the  new  religion.)  Long  enough  have  the 
People  been  listening  to  poems  in  which  common  humanity,  de- 
ferential, bends  low,  humiliated,  acknowledging  superiors.  But 
America  listens  to  no  such  poems.  Erect,  inflated,  and  fully  self- 
esteeming  be  the  chant ;  and  then  America  will  listen  with  pleased 
ears. 

Nor  may  the  genuine  gold,  the  gems,  when  brought  to  light  at 
last,  be  probably  usher' d  forth  from  any  of  the  quarters  currently 
counted  on.  To-day,  doubtless,  the  infant  genius  of  American 
poetic  expression,  (eluding  those  highly-refined  imported  and 
gilt-edged  themes,  and  sentimental  and  butterfly  flights,  pleasant 
to  orthodox  publishers — causing  tender  spasms  in  the  coteries, 
and  warranted  not  to  chafe  the  sensitive  cuticle  of  the  most  ex- 
quisitely artificial  gossamer  delicacy,)  lies  sleeping  far  away,  hap- 
pily unrecognized  and  uninjur'd  by  the  coteries,  the  art-writers, 
the  talkers  and  critics  of  the  saloons,  or  the  lecturers  in  the  col- 
leges— lies  sleeping,  aside,  unrecking  itself,  in  some  western  idiom, 
or  native  Michigan  or  Tennessee  repartee,  or  stump-speech — or 
in  Kentucky  or  Georgia,  or  the  Carolinas — or  in  some  slang  or 
local  song  or  allusion  of  the  Manhattan,  Boston,  Philadelphia  or 
Baltimore  mechanic — or  up  in  the  Maine  woods — or  off  in  the 
hut  of  the  California  miner,  or  crossing  the  Rocky  mountains,  or 
along  the  Pacific  railroad — or  on  the  breasts  of  the  young  farmers 
of  the  northwest,  or  Canada,  or  boatmen  of  the  lakes.  Rude  and 
coarse  nursing-beds,  these ;  but  only  from  such  beginnings  and 
stocks,  indigenous  here,  may  haply  arrive,  be  grafted,  and  sprout, 
in  time,  flowers  of  genuine  American  aroma,  and  fruits  truly  and 
fully  our  own. 

I  say  it  were  a  standing  disgrace  to  these  States — I  say  it  were 
a  disgrace  to  any  nation,  distinguished  above  others  by  the  variety 
and  vastness  of  its  territories,  its  materials,  its  inventive  activity, 
and  the  splendid  practicality  of  its  people,  not  to  rise  and  soar 
above  others  also  in  its  original  styles  in  literature  and  art,  and 
its  own  supply  of  intellectual  and  esthetic  masterpieces,  arche- 
typal, and  consistent  with  itself.  I  know  not  a  land  except  ours 
that  has  not,  to  some  extent,  however  small,  made  its  title  clear. 
The  Scotch  have  their  born  ballads,  subtly  expressing  their  past 
and  present,  and  expressing  character.     The  Irish  have  theirs. 


DEMOCRATIC  VISTAS.  247 

England,  Italy,  France,  Spain,  theirs.  What  has  America?  With 
exhaustless  mines  of  the  richest  ore  of  epic,  lyric,  tale,  tune,  pic- 
ture, &c,  in  the  Four  Years'  War;  with,  indeed,  I  sometimes 
think,  the  richest  masses  of  material  ever  afforded  a  nation,  more 
variegated,  and  on  a  larger  scale — the  first  sign  of  proportionate, 
native,  imaginative  Soul,  and  first-class  works  to  match,  is,  (I 
cannot  too  often  repeat,)  so  far  wanting. 

Long  ere  the  second  centennial  arrives,  there  will  be  some  forty 
to  fifty  great  States,  among  them  Canada  and  Cuba.  When  the 
present  century  closes,  our  population  will  be  sixty  or  seventy 
millions.  The  Pacific  will  be  ours,  and  the  Atlantic  mainly  ours. 
There  will  be  daily  electric  communication  with  every  part  of  the 
globe.  What  an  age !  What  a  land  !  Where,  elsewhere,  one 
so  great?  The  individuality  of  one  nation  must  then,  as  always, 
lead  the  world.  Can  there  be  any  doubt  who  the  leader  ought  to 
be?  Bear  in  mind,  though,  that  nothing  less  than  the  mightiest 
original  non-subordinated  Soul  has  ever  really,  gloriously  led, 
or  ever  can  lead.  (This  Soul — its  other  name,  in  these  Vistas, 
is  Literature.) 

In  fond  fancy  leaping  those  hundred  years  ahead,  let  us  survey 
America's  works,  poems,  philosophies,  fulfilling  prophecies,  and 
giving  form  and  decision  to  best  ideals.  Much  that  is  now  un- 
dream'd  of,  we  might  then  perhaps  see  establish'd,  luxuriantly 
cropping  forth,  richness,  vigor  of  letters  and  of  artistic  expression, 
in  whose  products  character  will  be  a  main  requirement,  and  not 
merely  erudition  or  elegance. 

Intense  and  loving  comradeship,  the  personal  and  passionate 
attachment  of  man  to  man — which,  hard  to  define,  underlies  the 
lessons  and  ideals  of  the  profound  saviours  of  every  land  and  age, 
and  which  seems  to  promise,  when  thoroughly  develop'd,  culti- 
vated and  recognized  in  manners  and  literature,  the  most  sub- 
stantial hope  and  safety  of  the  future  of  these  States,  will  then  be 
fully  express'd.* 

*  It  is  to  the  development,  identification,  and  general  prevalence  of  that 
fervid  comradeship,  (the  adhesive  love,  at  least  rivaling  the  amative  love 
hitherto  possessing  imaginative  literature,  if  not  going  beyond  it,)  that  I  look 
for  the  counterbalance  and  offset  of  our  materialistic  and  vulgar  American 
democracy,  and  for  the  spiritualization  thereof.  Many  will  say  it  is  a  dream, 
and  will  not  follow  my  inferences :  but  I  confidently  expect  a  time  when 
there  will  be  seen,  running  like  a  half-hid  warp  through  all  the  myriad  audi- 
ble and  visible  worldly  interests  of  America,  threads  of  manly  friendship,  fond 
and  loving,  pure  and  sweet,  strong  and  life-long,  carried  to  degrees  hitherto 
unknown — not  only  giving  tone  to  individual  character,  and  making  it  un- 
precedently  emotional,  muscular,  heroic,  and  refined,  but  having  the  deepest 
relations  to  general  politics.     I  say  democracy  infers  such  loving  comradeship, 


248  COLLECT. 

A  strong- fibred  joyousness  and  faith,  and  the  sense  of  health  al 
fresco,  may  well  enter  into  the  preparation  of  future  noble  Amer- 
ican authorship.  Part  of  the  test  of  a  great  literatus  shall  be  the 
absence  in  him  of  the  idea  of  the  covert,  the  lurid,  the  malefi- 
cent, the  devil,  the  grim  estimates  inherited  from  the  Puritans, 
hell,  natural  depravity,  and  the  like.  The  great  literatus  will  be 
known,  among  the  rest,  by  his  cheerful  simplicity,  his  adherence 
to  natural  standards,  his  limitless  faith  in  God,  his  reverence,  and 
by  the  absence  in  him  of  doubt,  ennui,  burlesque,  persiflage,  or 
any  strain'd  and  temporary  fashion. 

Nor  must  I  fail,  again  and  yet  again,  to  clinch,  reiterate  more 
plainly  still,  (O  that  indeed  such  survey  as  we  fancy,  may  show 
in  time  this  part  completed  also  !)  the  lofty  aim,  surely  the 
proudest  and  the  purest,  in  whose  service  the  future  literatus,  of 
whatever  field,  may  gladly  labor.  As  we  have  intimated,  offsetting 
the  material  civilization  of  our  race,  our  nationality,  its  wealth, 
territories,  factories,  population,  products,  trade,  and  military  and 
naval  strength,  and  breathing  breath  of  life  into  all  these,  and  more, 
must  be  its  moral  civilization — the  formulation,  expression,  and 
aidancy  whereof,  is  the  very  highest  height  of  literature.  The 
climax  of  this  loftiest  range  of  civilization,  rising  above  all  the 
gorgeous  shows  and  results  of  wealth,  intellect,  power,  and  art, 
as  such — above  even  theology  and  religious  fervor — is  to  be  its 
development,  from  the  eternal  bases,  and  the  fit  expression,  of 
absolute  Conscience,  moral  soundness,  Justice.  Even  in  religious 
fervor  there  is  a  touch  of  animal  heat.  But  moral  conscientious- 
ness, crystalline,  without  flaw,  not  Godlike  only,  entirely  human, 
awes  and  enchants  forever.  Great  is  emotional  love,  even  in  the 
order  of  the  rational  universe.  But,  if  we  must  make  gradations, 
I  am  clear  there  is  something  greater.  Power,  love,  veneration, 
products,  genius,  esthetics,  tried  by  subtlest  comparisons,  analyses, 
and  in  serenest  moods,  somewhere  fail,  somehow  become  vain. 
Then  noiseless,  with  flowing  steps,  the  lord,  the  sun,  the  last  ideal 
comes.  By  the  names  right,  justice,  truth,  we  suggest,  but  do  not 
describe  it.  To  the  world  of  men  it  remains  a  dream,  an  idea  as 
they  call  it.  But  no  dream  is  it  to  the  wise — but  the  proudest, 
almost  only  solid  lasting  thing  of  all.  Its  analogy  in  the  material 
universe  is  what  holds  together  this  world,  and  every  object  upon 
it,  and  carries  its  dynamics  on  forever  sure  and  safe.  Its  lack, 
and  the  persistent  shirking  of  it,  as  in  life,  sociology,  literature, 
politics,  business,  and  even  sermonizing,  these  times,  or  any  times, 
still  leaves  the  abysm,  the  mortal  flaw  and  smutch,  mocking  civi- 

as  its  most  inevitable  twin  or  counterpart,  without  which  it  will  be  incomplete, 
in  vain,  and  incapable  of  perpetuating  itself. 


DEMOCRATIC  VISTAS.  249 

lization  to-day,  with  all  its  unquestion'd  triumphs,  and  all  the 
civilization  so  far  known.* 

Present  literature,  while  magnificently  fulfilling  certain  popular 
demands,  with  plenteous  knowledge  and  verbal  smartness,  is  pro- 
foundly sophisticated,  insane,  and  its  very  joy  is  morbid.  It  needs 
tally  and  express  Nature,  and  the  spirit  of  Nature,  and  to  know 
and  obey  the  standards.  I  say  the  question  of  Nature,  largely 
consider'd,  involves  the  questions  of  the  esthetic,  the  emotional, 
and  the  religious — and  involves  happiness.  A  fitly  born  and  bred 
race,  growing  up  in  right  conditions  of  out-door  as  much  as  in- 
door harmony,  activity  and  development,  would  probably,  from 
and  in  those  conditions,  find  it  enough  merely /#  live — and  would, 
in  their  relations  to  the  sky,  air,  water,  trees,  &c,  and  to  the 
countless  common  shows,  and  in  the  fact  of  life  itself,  discover 
and  achieve  happiness — with  Being  suffused  night  and  day  by 
wholesome  extasy,  surpassing  all  the  pleasures  that  wealth,  amuse- 
ment, and  even  gratified  intellect,  erudition,  or  the  sense  of  art, 
can  give. 

In  the  prophetic  literature  of  these  States  (the  reader  of  my 
speculations  will  miss  their  principal  stress  unless  he  allows  well 
for  the  point  that  a  new  Literature,  perhaps  a  new  Metaphysics, 
certainly  a  new  Poetry,  are  to  be,  in  my  opinion,  the  only  sure 
and  worthy  supports  and  expressions  of  the  American  Democ- 
racy,) Nature,  true  Nature,  and  the  true  idea  of  Nature,  long 
absent,  must,  above  all,  become  fully  restored,  enlarged,  and 
must  furnish  the  pervading  atmosphere  to  poems,  and  the  test  of 
all  high  literary  and  esthetic  compositions.  I  do  not  mean  the 
smooth  walks,  trimm'd  hedges,  poseys  and  nightingales  of  the 
English  poets,  but  the  whole  orb,  with  its  geologic  history,  the 
kosmos,  carrying  fire  and  snow,  that  rolls  through  the  illimitable 

*  I  am  reminded  as  I  write  that  out  of  this  very  conscience,  or  idea  of  con- 
science, of  intense  moral  right,  and  in  its  name  and  strain'd  construction,  the 
worst  fanaticisms,  wars,  persecutions,  murders,  &c,  have  yet,  in  all  lands,  in 
the  past,  been  broach'd,  and  have  come  to  their  devilish  fruition.  Much  is  to 
be  said — but  I  may  say  here,  and  in  response,  that  side  by  side  with  the  unflag- 
ging stimulation  of  the  elements  of  religion  and  conscience  must  henceforth 
move  with  equal  sway,  science,  absolute  reason,  and  the  general  proportionate 
development  of  the  whole  man.  These  scientific  facts,  deductions,  are  divine 
too — precious  counted  parts  of  moral  civilization,  and,  with  physical  health, 
indispensable  to  it,  to  prevent  fanaticism.  For  abstract  religion,  I  perceive, 
is  easily  led  astray,  ever  credulous,  and  is  capable  of  devouring,  remorseless, 
like  fire  and  flame.  Conscience,  too,  isolated  from  all  else,  and  from  the  emo- 
tional nature,  may  but  attain  the  beauty  and  purity  of  glacial,  snowy  ice.  We 
want,  for  these  States,  for  the  general  character,  a  cheerful,  religious  fervor, 
endued  with  the  ever-present  modifications  of  the  human  emotions,  friendship, 
benevolence,  with  a  fair  field  for  scientific  inquiry,  the  right  of  individual 
judgment,  and  always  the  cooling  influences  of  material  Nature. 


250 


COLLECT. 


areas,  light  as  a  feather,  though  weighing  billions  of  tons.  Fur- 
thermore, as  by  what  we  now  partially  call  Nature  is  intended,  at 
most,  only  what  is  entertainable  by  the  physical  conscience,  the 
sense  of  matter,  and  of  good  animal  health — on  these  it  must  be 
distinctly  accumulated,  incorporated,  that  man,  comprehending 
these,  has,  in  towering  superaddition,  the  moral  and  spiritual 
consciences,  indicating  his  destination  beyond  the  ostensible,  the 
mortal. 

To  the  heights  of  such  estimate  of  Nature  indeed  ascending, 
we  proceed  to  make  observations  for  our  Vistas,  breathing  rarest 
air.  What  is  I  believe  called  Idealism  seems  to  me  to  suggest, 
(guarding  against  extravagance,  and  ever  modified  even  by  its 
opposite,)  the  course  of  inquiry  and  desert  of  favor  for  our  New 
World  metaphysics,  their  foundation  of  and  in  literature,  giving 
hue  to  all.* 

*  The  culmination  and  fruit  of  literary  artistic  expression,  and  its  final 
fields  of  pleasure  for  the  human  soul ,  are  in  metaphysics,  including  the  mysteries 
of  the  spiritual  world,  the  soul  itself,  and  the  question  of  the  immortal  con- 
tinuation of  our  identity.  In  all  ages,  the  mind  of  man  has  brought  up  here — 
and  always  will.  Here,  at  least,  of  whatever  race  or  era,  we  stand  on  com- 
mon ground.  Applause,  too,  is  unanimous,  antique  or  modern.  Those  authors 
who  work  well  in  this  field — though  their  reward,  instead  of  a  handsome  per- 
centage, or  royalty,  may  be  but  simply  the  laurel-crown  of  the  victors  in  the 
great  Olympic  games — will  be  dearest  to  humanity,  and  their  works,  however 
esthetically  defective,  will  be  treasur'd  forever.  The  altitude  of  literature  and 
poetry  has  always  been  religion — and  always  will  be.  The  Indian  Vedas,  the 
Na^kas  of  Zoroaster,  the  Talmud  of  the  Jews,  the  Old  Testament,  the  Gospel 
of  Christ  and  his  disciples,  Plato's  works,  the  Koran  of  Mohammed,  the  Edda 
of  Snorro,  and  so  on  toward  our  own  day,  to  Swedenborg,  and  to  the  invalu- 
able contributions  of  Leibnitz,  Kant  and  Hegel — these,  with  such  poems  only 
in  which,  (while  singing  well  of  persons  and  events,  of  the  passions  of  man, 
and  the  shows  of  the  material  universe,)  the  religious  tone,  the  consciousness 
of  mystery,  the  recognition  of  the  future,  of  the  unknown,  of  Deity  over  and 
under  all,  and  of  the  divine  purpose,  are  never  absent,  but  indirectly  give  tone 
to  all — exhibit  literature's  real  heights  and  elevations,  towering  up  like  the 
great  mountains  of  the  earth. 

Standing  on  this  ground — the  last,  the  highest,  only  permanent  ground — 
and  sternly  criticising,  from  it,  all  works,  either  of  the  literary,  or  any  art,  we 
have  peremptorily  to  dismiss  every  pretensive  production,  however  fine  its 
esthetic  or  intellectual  points,  which  violates  or  ignores,  or  even  does  not  cele- 
brate, the  central  divine  idea  of  All,  suffusing  universe,  of  eternal  trains  of 
purpose,  in  the  development,  by  however  slow  degrees,  of  the  physical,  moral, 
and  spiritual  kosmos.  I  say  he  has  studied,  meditated  to  no  profit,  whatever 
maybe  his  mere  erudition,  who  has  not  absorb'dthis  simple  consciousness  and 
faith.  It  is  not  entirely  new — but  it  is  for  Democracy  to  elaborate  it,  and  look 
to  build  upon  and  expand  from  it,  with  uncompromising  reliance.  Above  the 
doors  of  teaching  the  inscription  is  to  appear,  Though  little  or  nothing  can  be 
absolutely  known,  perceiv'd,  except  from  a  point  of  view  which  "is  evanes- 
cent, yet  we  know  at  least  one  permanency,  that  Time  and  Space,  in  the  will 
of  God,  furnish  successive  chains,  completions  of  material  births  and  begin- 


DEMOCRATIC  VISTAS.  251 

The  elevating  and  etherealizing  ideas  of  the  unknown  and  of 
unreality  must  be  brought  forward  with  authority,  as  they  are  the 
legitimate  heirs  of  the  known,  and  of  reality,  and  at  least  as 
great  as  their  parents.  Fearless  of  scoffing,  and  of  the  ostent, 
let  us  take  our  stand,  our  ground,  and  never  desert  it,  to  confront 
the  growing  excess  and  arrogance  of  realism.  To  the  cry,  now 
victorious — the  cry  of  sense,  science,  flesh,  incomes,  farms,  mer- 
chandise, logic,  intellect,  demonstrations,  solid  perpetuities,  build- 
ings of  brick  and  iron,  or  even  the  facts  of  the  -shows  of  trees, 
earth,  rocks,  &c,  fear  not,  my  brethren,  my  sisters,  to  sound  out 
with  equally  determin'd  voice,  that  conviction  brooding  within 
the  recesses  of  every  envision'd  soul — illusions  !  apparitions  !  fig- 
ments all !  True,  we  must  not  condemn  the  show,  nether  abso- 
lutely deny  it,  for  the  indispensability  of  its  meanings;  but  how 
clearly  we  see  that,  migrate  in  soul  to  what  we  can  already  con- 
ceive of  superior  and  spiritual  points  of  view,  and,  palpable  as  it' 
seems  under  present  relations,  it  all  and  several  might,  nay  cer- 
tainly would,  fall  apart  and  vanish. 

I  hail  with  joy  the  oceanic,  variegated,  intense  practical  energy, 
the  demand  for  facts,  even  the  business  materialism  of  the  cur- 
rent age,  our  States.  But  wo  to  the  age  or  land  in  which  these 
things,  movements,  stopping  at  themselves,  do  not  tend  to  ideas. 
As  fuel  to  flame,  and  flame  to  the  heavens,  so  must  wealth,  science, 
materialism — even  this  democracy  of  which  we  make  so  much — 
unerringly  feed  the  highest  mind,  the  soul.  Infinitude  the  flight : 
fathomless  the  mystery.  Man,  so  diminutive,  dilates  beyond  the 
sensible  universe,  competes  with,  outcopes  space  and  time,  medi- 
tating even  one  great  idea.  Thus,  and  thus  only,  does  a  human 
being,  his  spirit,  ascend  above,  and  justify,  objective  Nature, 
which,  probably  nothing  in  itself,  is  incredibly  and  divinely  ser- 
viceable, indispensable,  real,  here.  And  as  the  purport  of  objec- 
tive Nature  is  doubtless  folded,  hidden,  somewhere  here — as  some- 
where here  is  what  this  globe  and  its  manifold  forms,  and  the 
light  of  day,  and  night's  darkness,  and  life  itself,  with  all  its  ex- 
periences, are  for — it  is  here  the  great  literature,  especially  verse, 
must  get  its  inspiration  and  throbbing  blood.     Then  may  we  at- 

nings,  solve  all  discrepancies,  fears  and  doubts,  and  eventually  fulfil  happi- 
ness— and  that  the  prophecy  of  those  births,  namely  spiritual  results,  throws 
the  true  arch  over  all  teaching,  all  science.  The  local  considerations  of  sin, 
disease,  deformity,  ignorance,  death,  &c,  and  their  measurement  by  the  super- 
ficial mind,  and  ordinary  legislation  and  theology,  are  to  be  met  by  science, 
boldly  accepting,  promulging  this  faith,  and  planting  the  seeds  of  superber 
laws — of  the  explication  of  the  physical  universe  through  the  spiritual — and 
clearing  the  way  for  a  religion,  sweet  and  unimpugnable  alike  to  little  child 
or  great  savan. 


252 


COLLECT. 


tain  to  a  poetry  worthy  the  immortal  soul  of  man,  and  which, 
while  absorbing  materials,  and,  in  their  own  sense,  the  shows  of 
Nature,  will,  above  all,  have,  both  directly  and  indirectly,  a  free- 
ing, fluidizing,  expanding,  religious  character,  exulting  with 
science,  fructifying  the  moral  elements,  and  stimulating  aspira- 
tions, and  meditations  on  the  unknown. 

The  process,  so  far,  is  indirect  and  peculiar,  and  though  it  may 
be  suggested,  cannot  be  defined.  Observing,  rapport,  and  with 
intuition,  the  shows  and  forms  presented  by  Nature,  the  sensuous 
luxuriance,  the  beautiful  in  living  men  and  women,  the  actual 
play  of  passions,  in  history  and  life — and,  above  all,  from  those 
developments  either  in  Nature  or  human  personality  in  which 
power,  (dearest  of  all  to  the  sense  of  the  artist,)  transacts  itself — 
out  of  these,  and  seizing  what  is  in  them,  the  poet,  the  esthetic 
worker  in  any  field,  by  the  divine  magic  of  his  genius,  projects 
them,  their  analogies,  by  curious  removes,  indirections,  in  litera- 
ture and  art.  (No  useless  attempt  to  repeat  the  material  creation, 
by  daguerreotyping  the  exact  likeness  by  mortal  mental  means.) 
This  is  the  image-making  faculty,  coping  with  material  creation, 
and  rivaling,  almost  triumphing  over  it.  This  alone,  when  all 
the  other  parts  of  a  specimen  of  literature  or  art  are  ready  and 
waiting,  can  breathe  into  it  the  breath  of  life,  and  endow  it  with 
identity. 

"The  true  question  to  ask,"  says  the  librarian  of  Congress  in  a 
paper  read  before  the  Social  Science  Convention  at  New  York, 
October,  1869,  "The  true  question  to  ask  respecting  a  book,  is, 
has  it  help" d  any  human  soul ?"  This  is  the  hint,  statement,  not 
only  of  the  great  literatus,  his  book,  but  of  every  great  artist.  It 
may  be  that  all  works  of  art  are  to  be  first  tried  by  their  art 
qualities,  their  image-forming  talent,  and  their  dramatic,  pictorial, 
plot-constructing,  euphonious  and  other  talents.  Then,  when- 
ever claiming  to  be  first-class  works,  they  are  to  be  strictly  and 
sternly  tried  by  their  foundation  in,  and  radiation,  in  the  highest 
sense,  and  always  indirectly,  of  the  ethic  principles,  and  eligibility 
to  free,  arouse,  dilate. 

As,  within  the  purposes  of  the  Kosmos,  and  vivifying  all  me- 
teorology, and  all  the  congeries  of  the  mineral,  vegetable  and 
animal  worlds — all  the  physical  growth  and  development  of  man, 
and  all  the  history  of  the  race  in  politics,  religions,  wars,  &c, 
there  is  a  moral  purpose,  a  visible  or  invisible  intention,  certainly 
underlying  all — its  results  and  proof  needing  to  be  patiently 
waited  for — needing  intuition,  faith,  idiosyncrasy,  to  its  realiza- 
tion, which  many,  and  especially  the  intellectual,  do  not  have — 
so  in  the  product,  or  congeries  of  the  product,  of  the  greatest 
literatus.     This  is  the  last,  profoundest  measure  and  test  of  a 


DEMOCRATIC  VISTAS. 


253 


first-class  literary  or  esthetic  achievement,  and  when  understood 
and  put  in  force  must  fain,  I  say,  lead  to  works,  books,  nobler 
than  any  hitherto  known.  Lo  !  Nature,  (the  only  complete,  ac- 
tual poem,)  existing  calmly  in  the  divine  scheme,  containing  all, 
content,  careless  of  the  criticisms  of  a  day,  or  these  endless  and 
wordy  chatterers.  And  lo  !  to  the  consciousuess  of  the  soul,  the 
permanent  identity,  the  thought,  the  something,  before  which 
the  magnitude  even  of  democracy,  art,  literature,  &c,  dwindles, 
becomes  partial,  measurable — something  that  fully  satisfies,  (which 
those  do  not.)  That  something  is  the  All,  and  the  idea  of  All, 
with  the  accompanying  idea  of  eternity,  and  of  itself,  the  soul, 
buoyant,  indestructible,  sailing  space  forever,  visiting  every  re- 
gion, as  a  ship  the  sea.  And  again  lo!  the  pulsations  in  all 
matter,  all  spirit,  throbbing  forever — the  eternal  beats,  eternal 
systole  and  diastole  of  life  in  things — wherefrom  I  feel  and  know 
that  death  is  not  the  ending,  as  was  thought,  but  rather  the  real 
beginning — and  that  nothing  ever  is  or  can  be  lost,  nor  ever  die, 
nor  soul,  nor  matter. 

In  the  future  of  these  States  must  arise  poets  immenser  far, 
and  make  great  poems  of  death.  The  poems  of  life  are  great, 
but  there  must  be  the  poems  of  the  purports  of  life,  not  only  in 
itself,  but  beyond  itself.  I  have  eulogized  Homer,  the  sacred 
bards  of  Jewry,  Eschylus,  Juvenal,  Shakspere,  &c,  and  acknowl- 
edged their  inestimable  value.  But,  (with  perhaps  the  exception, 
in  some,  not  all  respects,  of  the  second-mention'd,)  I  say  there 
must,  for  future  and  democratic  purposes,  appear  poets,  (dare  I 
to  say  so  ?)  of  higher  class  even  than  any  of  those — poets  not  only 
possess'd  of  the  religious  fire  and  abandon  of  Isaiah,  luxuriant 
in  the  epic  talent  of  Homer,  or  fur  proud  characters  as  in  Shak- 
spere, but  consistent  with  the  Hegelian  formulas,  and  consistent 
with  modern  science.  America  needs,  and  the  world  needs,  a 
class  of  bards  who  will,  now  and  ever,  so  link  and  tally  the  ra- 
tional physical  being  of  man,  with  the  ensembles  of  time  and 
space,  and  with  this  vast  and  multiform  show,  Nature,  surround- 
ing him,  ever  tantalizing  him,  equally  a  part,  and  yet  not  a  part 
of  him,  as  to  essentially  harmonize,  satisfy,  and  put  at  rest. 
Faith,  very  old,  now  scared  away  by  science,  must  be  restored, 
brought  back  by  the  same  power  that  caused  her  departure — 
restored  with  new  sway,  deeper,  wider,  higher  than  ever.  Surely, 
this  universal  ennui,  this  coward  fear,  this  shuddering  at  death, 
these  low,  degrading  views,  are  not  always  to  rule  the  spirit  per- 
vading future  society,  as  it  has  the  past,  and  does  the  present. 
What  the  Roman  Lucretius  sought  most  nobly,  yet  all  too  blindly, 
negatively  to  do  for  his  age  and  its  successors,  must  be  done 
positively  by  some  great  coming  literatus,  especially  poet,  who, 


254  COLLECT. 

while  remaining  fully  poet,  will  absorb  whatever  science  indicates, 
with  spiritualism,  and  out  of  them,  and  out  of  his  own  genius, 
will  compose  the  great  poem  of  death.  Then  will  man  indeed 
confront  Nature,  and  confront  time  and  space,  both  with  science, 
and  con  amove,  and  take  his  right  place,  prepared  for  life,  master 
of  fortune  and  misfortune.  And  then  that  which  was  long  wanted 
will  be  supplied,  and  the  ship  that  had  it  not  before  in  all  her 
voyages,  will  have  an  anchor. 

There  are  still  other  standards,  suggestions,  for  products  of 
high  literatuses.  That  which  really  balances  and  conserves  the 
social  and  political  world  is  not  so  much  legislation,  police, 
treaties,  and  dread  of  punishment,  as  the  latent  eternal  intuitional 
sense,  in  humanity,  of  fairness,  manliness,  decorum,  &c.  Indeed, 
this  perennial  regulation,  control,  and  oversight,  by  self-sup- 
pliance,  is  sine  qua  non  to  democracy ;  and  a  highest  widest  aim 
of  democratic  literature  may  well  be  to  bring  forth,  cultivate, 
brace,  and  strengthen  this  sense,  in  individuals  and  society.  A 
strong  mastership  of  the  general  inferior  self  by  the  superior  self, 
is  to  be  aided,  secured,  indirectly,  but  surely,  by  the  literatus,  in 
his  works,  shaping,  for  individual  or  aggregate  democracy,  a 
great  passionate  body,  in  and  along  with  which  goes  a  great  mas- 
terful spirit. 

And  still,  providing  for  contingencies,  I  fain  confront  the  fact, 
the  need  of  powerful  native  philosophs  and  orators  and  bards, 
these  States,  as  rallying  points  to  come,  in  times  of  danger,  and 
to  fend  off  ruin  and  defection.  For  history  is  long,  long,  long. 
Shift  and  turn  the  combinations  of  the  statement  as  we  may,  the 
problem  of  the  future  of  America  is  in  certain  respects  as  dark 
as  it  is  vast.  Pride,  competition,  segregation,  vicious  wilfulness, 
and  license  beyond  example,  brood  already  upon  us.  Unwieldy 
and  immense,  who  shall  hold  in  behemoth  ?  who  bridle  levi- 
athan? Flaunt  it  as  we  choose,  athwart  and  over  the  roads  of 
our  progress  loom  huge  uncertainty,  and  dreadful,  threatening 
gloom.  It  is  useless  to  deny  it :  Democracy  grows  rankly  up  the 
thickest,  noxious,  deadliest  plants  and  fruits  of  all — brings  worse 
and  worse  invaders — needs  newer,  larger,  stronger,  keener  com- 
pensations and  compellers. 

Our  lands,  embracing  so  much,  (embracing  indeed  the  whole, 
rejecting  none,)  hold  in  their  breast  that  flame  also,  capable  of 
consuming  themselves,  consuming  us  all.  Short  as  the  span  of 
our  national  life  has  been,  already  have  death  and  downfall 
crowded  close  upon  us — and  will  again  crowd  close,  no  doubt, 
even  if  warded  off.  Ages  to  come  may  never  know,  but  I  know, 
how  narrowly  during  the  late  secession  war — and  more  than  once, 


DEMOCRATIC  VISTAS. 


255 


and  more  than  twice  or  thrice — our  Nationality,  (wherein  bound 
up,  as  in  a  ship  in  a  storm,  depended,  and  yet  depend,  all  our 
best  life,  all  hope,  all  value,)  just  grazed,  just  by  a  hair  escaped 
destruction.  Alas  !  to  think  of  them  !  the  agony  and  bloody 
sweat  of  certain  of  those  hours  !  those  cruel,  sharp,  suspended 
crises  ! 

Even  to-day,  amid  these  whirls,  incredible  flippancy,  and  blind 
fury  of  parties,  infidelity,  entire  lack  of  first-class  captains  and 
leaders,  added  to  the  plentiful  meanness  and  vulgarity  of  the  os- 
tensible masses — that  problem,  the  labor  question,  beginning  to 
open  like  a  yawning  gulf,  rapidly  widening  every  year — what 
prospect  have  we?  We  sail  a  dangerous  sea  of  seething  currents, 
cross  and  under-currents,  vortices — all  so  dark,  untried — and 
whither  shall  we  turn?  It  seems  as  if  the  Almighty  had  spread 
before  this  nation  charts  of  imperial  destinies,  dazzling  as  the 
sun,  yet  with  many  a  deep  intestine  difficulty,  and  human  aggre- 
gate of  cankerous  imperfection, — saying,  lo  !  the  roads,  the  only 
plans  of  development,  long  and  varied  with  all  terrible  balks  and 
ebullitions.  You  said  in  your  soul,  I  will  be  empire  of  empires, 
overshadowing  all  else,  past  and  present,  putting  the  history  of 
old-world  dynasties,  conquests  behind  me,  as  of  no  account — 
making  a  new  history,  a  history  of  democracy,  making  old  his- 
tory a  dwarf — I  alone  inaugurating  largeness,  culminating  time. 
If  these,  O  lands  of  America,  are  indeed  the  prizes,  the  determi- 
nations of  your  soul,  be  it  so.  But  behold  the  cost,  and  already 
specimens  of  the  cost.  Thought  you  greatness  was  to  ripen  for 
you  like  a  pear  ?  If  you  would  have  greatness,  know  that  you 
must  conquer  it  through  ages,  centuries — must  pay  for  it  with  a 
proportionate  price.  For  you  too,  as  for  all  lands,  the  struggle, 
the  traitor,  the  wily  person  in  office,  scrofulous  wealth,  the  surfeit 
of  prosperity,  the  demonism  of  greed,  the  hell  of  passion,  the  de- 
cay of  faith,  the  long  postponement,  the  fossil-like  lethargy,  the 
ceaseless  need  of  revolutions,  prophets,  thunderstorms,  deaths, 
births,  new  projections  and  invigorations  of  ideas  and  men. 

Yet  I  have  dream'd,  merged  in  that  hidden-tangled  problem 
of  our  fate,  whose  long  unraveling  stretches  mysteriously  through 
time — dream'd  out,  portray'd,  hinted  already — a  little  or  a  larger 
band — a  band  of  brave  and  true,  unprecedented  yet — arm'd  and 
equipt  at  every  point — the  members  separated,  it  may  be,  by  dif- 
ferent dates  and  States,  or  south,  or  north,  or  east,  or  west — Pa- 
cific, Atlantic,  Southern,  Canadian — a  year,  a  century  here,  and 
other  centuries  there — but  always  one,  compact  in  soul,  con- 
science-conserving, God-inculcating,  inspired  achievers,  not  only 
in  literature,  the  greatest  art,  but  achievers  in  all  art — a  new,  un- 
dying order,  dynasty,  from  age  to  age  transmitted — a  band,  a  class, 


256  COLLECT. 

at  least  as  fit  to  cope  with  current  years,  our  dangers,  needs,  as 
those  who,  for  their  times,  so  long,  so  well,  in  armor  or  in  cowl, 
upheld  and  made  illustrious,  that  far-back  feudal,  priestly  world. 
To  offset  chivalry,  indeed,  those  vanish'd  countless  knights,  old 
altars,  abbeys,  priests,  ages  and  strings  of  ages,  a  knightlier  and 
more  sacred  cause  to-day  demands,  and  shall  supply,  in  a  New 
World,  to  larger,  grander  work,  more  than  the  counterpart  and 
tally  of  them. 

Arrived  now,  definitely,  at  an  apex  for  these  Vistas,  I  confess 
that  the  promulgation  and  belief  in  such  a  class  or  institution — 
a  new  and  greater  literatus  order — its  possibility,  (nay  certainty,) 
underlies  these  entire  speculations — and  that  the  rest,  the  other 
parts,  as  superstructures,  are  ail  founded  upon  it.  It  really  seems 
to  me  the  condition,  not  only  of  our  future  national  and  demo- 
cratic development,  but  of  our  perpetuation.  In  the  highly 
artificial  and  materialistic  bases  of  modern  civilization,  with  the 
corresponding  arrangements  and  methods  of  living,  the  force- 
infusion  of  intellect  alone,  the  depraving  influences  of  riches 
just  as  much  as  poverty,  the  absence  of  all  high  ideals  in  char- 
acter— with  the  long  series  of  tendencies,  shapings,  which  few 
are  strong  enough  to  resist,  and  which  now  seem,  with  steam- 
engine  speed,  to  be  everywhere  turning  out  the  generations  of 
humanity  like  uniform  iron  castings — all  of  which,  as  compared 
with  the  feudal  ages,  we  can  yet  do  nothing  better  than  accept, 
make  the  best  of,  and  even  welcome,  upon  the  whole,  for  their 
oceanic  practical  grandeur,  and  their  restless  wholesale  kneading 
of  the  masses — I  say  of  all  this  tremendous  and  dominant  play  of 
solely  materialistic  bearings  upon  current  life  in  the  United 
States,  with  the  results  as  already  seen,  accumulating,  and  reach- 
ing far  into  the  future,  that  they  must  either  be  confronted  and 
met  by  at  least  an  equally  subtle  and  tremendous  force-infusion 
for  purposes  of  spiritualization,  for  the  pure  conscience,  for  gen- 
uine esthetics,  and  for  absolute  and  primal  manliness  and  woman- 
liness— or  else  our  modern  civilization,  with  all  its  improvements, 
is  in  vain,  and  we  are  on  the  road  to  a  destiny,  a  status,  equiva- 
lent, in  its  real  world,  to  that  of  the  fabled  damned. 

Prospecting  thus  the  coming  unsped  days,  and  that  new  order 
in  them — marking  the  endless  train  of  exercise,  development, 
unwind,  in  nation  as  in  man,  which  life  is  for — we  see,  fore-indi- 
cated, amid  these  prospects  and  hopes,  new  law-forces  of  spoken 
and  written  language — not  merely  the  pedagogue-forms,  correct, 
regular,  familiar  with  precedents,  made  for  matters  of  outside 
propriety,  fine  words,  thoughts  definitely  told  out — but  a  lan- 
guage fann'd  by  the  breath  of  Nature,  which  leaps  overhead, 
cares  mostly  for  impetus  and  effects,  and  for  what  it  plants  and 


DEMOCRATIC  VISTAS. 


257 


invigorates  to  grow — tallies  life  and  character,  and  seldomer  tells 
a  thing  than  suggests  or  necessitates  it.  In  fact,  a  new  theory  of 
literary  composition  for  imaginative  works  of  the  very  first  class, 
and  especially  for  highest  poems,  is  the  sole  course  open  to  these 
States.  Books  are  to  be  call'd  for,  and  supplied,  on  the  assump- 
tion that  the  process  of  reading  is  not  a  hall  sleep,  but,  in  highest 
sense,  an  exercise,  a  gymnast's  struggle;  that  the  reader  is  to  do 
something  for  himself,  must  be  on  the  alert,  must  himself  or  herself 
construct  indeed  the  poem,  argument,  history,  metaphysical  essay 
— the  text  furnishing  the  hints,  the  clue,  the  start  or  frame-work. 
Not  the  book  needs  so  much  to  be  the  complete  thing,  but  the 
reader  of  the  book  does.  That  were  to  make  a  nation  of  supple 
and  athletic  minds,  well-train'd,  intuitive,  used  to  depend  on 
themselves,  and  not  on  a  few  coteries  of  writers. 

Investigating  here,  we  see,  not  that  it  is  a  little  thing  we  have, 
in  having  the  bequeathed  libraries,  countless  shelves  of  volumes, 
records,  &c. ;  yet  how  serious  the  danger,  depending  entirely  on 
them,  of  the  bloodless  vein,  the  nerveless  arm,  the  false  applica- 
tion, at  second  or  third  hand.  We  see  that  the  real  interest  of 
this  people  of  ours  in  the  theology,  history,  poetry,  politics,  and 
personal  models  of  the  past,  (the  British  islands,  for  instance,  and 
indeed  all  the  past,)  is  not  necessarily  to  mould  ourselves  or  our 
literature  upon  them,  but  to  attain  fuller,  more  definite  compari- 
sons, warnings,  and  the  insight  to  ourselves,  our  own  present,  and 
our  own  far  grander,  different,  future  history,  religion,  social 
customs,  &c.  We  see  that  almost  everything  that  has  been  writ- 
ten, sung,  or  stated,  of  old,  with  reference  to  humanity  under  the 
feudal  and  oriental  institutes,  religions,  and  for  other  lands,  needs 
to  be  re-written,  re-sung,  re-stated,  in  terms  consistent  with  the 
institution  of  these  States,  and  to  come  in  range  and  obedient 
uniformity  with  them. 

We  see,  as  in  the  universes  of  the  material  kosmos,  after  me- 
teorological, vegetable,  and  animal  cycles,  man  at  last  arises, 
born  through  them,  to  prove  them,  concentrate  them,  to  turn 
upon  them  with  wonder  and  love — to  command  them,  adorn 
them,  and  carry  them  upward  into  superior  realms — so,  out  of  the 
series  of  the  preceding  social  and  political  universes,  now  arise 
these  States.  We  see  that  while  many  were  supposing  things  es- 
tablished and  completed,  really  the  grandest  things  always  re- 
main ;  and  discover  that  the  work  of  the  New  World  is  not 
ended,  but  only  fairly  begun. 

We  see  our  land,  America, -her  literature,  esthetics,  &c,  as, 
substantially,  the  getting  in  form,  or  erTusement  and  statement,  of 
deepest  basic  elements  and  loftiest  final  meanings,  of  history  and 
man — and  the  portrayal,  (under  the  eternal  laws  and  conditions 


22 


258  COLLECT. 

of  beauty,)  of  our  own  physiognomy,  the  subjective  tie  and  ex- 
pression of  the  objective,  as  from*  our  own  combination,  continu- 
ation, and  points  of  view — and  the  deposit  and  record  of  the 
national  mentality,  character,  appeals,  heroism,  wars,  and  even 
liberties — where  these,  and  all,  culminate  in  native  literary  and 
artistic  formulation,  to  be  perpetuated  ;  and  not  having  which 
native,  first-class  formulation,  she  will  flounder  about,  and  her 
other,  however  imposing,  eminent  greatness,  prove  merely  a  pass- 
ing gleam ;  but  truly  having  which,  she  will  understand  herself, 
live  nobly,  nobly  contribute,  emanate,  and,  swinging,  poised 
safely  on  herself,  illumin'd  and  illuming,  become  a  full-form'd 
world,  and  divine  Mother  not  only  of  material  but  spiritual 
worlds,  in  ceaseless  succession  through  time — the  main  thing 
being  the  average,  the  be  ily,  the  concrete,  the  democratic,  the 
popular,  on  which  all  the  superstructures  of  the  future  are  to  per- 
manently rest. 


ORIGINS  OP  ATTEMPTED  SECESSION. 

Not  the  whole  matter,  but  same  side  facts  worth  conning  to-day  and 

any  day. 

I  consider  the  war  of  attempted  secession,  1860-65,  not  as  a 
struggle  of  two  distinct  and  separate  peoples,  but  a  conflict  (often 
happening,  and  very  fierce)  between  the  passions  and  paradoxes 
of  one  and  the  same  identity — perhaps  the  only  terms  on  which 
that  identity  could  really  become  fused,  homogeneous  and  lasting. 
The  origin  and  conditions  out  of  which  it  arose,  are  full  of  les- 
sons, full  of  warnings  yet  to  the  Republic — and  always  will  be. 
The  underlying  and  principal  of  those  origins  are  yet  singularly- 
ignored.  The  Northern  States  were  really  just  as  responsible 
for  that  war,  (in  its  precedents,  foundations,  instigations,)  as 
the  South.  Let  me  try  to  give  my  view.  From  the  age  of  21  to 
40,  (1840-' 60,)  I  was  interested  in  the  political  movements  of  the 
land,  not  so  much  as  a  participant,  but  as  an  observer,  and  a  reg- 
ular voter  at  the  elections.  I  think  I  was  conversant  with  the 
springs  of  action,  and  their  workings,  not  only  in  New  York 
city  and  Brooklyn,  but  understood  them  in  the  whole  country,  as 
I  had  made  leisurely  tours  through  all  the  middle  States,  and  par- 
tially through  the  western  and  southern,  and  down  to  New  Or- 
leans, in  which  city  I  resided  for  some  time.  (I  was  there  at  the 
close  of  the  Mexican  war — saw  and  talk'd  with  General  Taylor, 
and  the  other  generals  and  officers,  who  were  feted  and  detain' d 
several  days  on  their  return  victorious  from  that  expedition.) 


ORIGINS  OF  ATTEMPTED  SECESSION.  259 

Of  course  many  and  very  contradictory  things,  specialties,  devel- 
opments, constitutional  views,  &c.,went  to  make  up  the  origin  of 
the  war — but  the  most  significant  general  fact  can  be  best  indicated 
and  stated  as  follows  :  For  twenty-five  years  previous  to  the  out- 
break, the  controling  "Democratic"  nominating  conventions  of 
our  Republic — starting  from  their  primaries  in  wards  or  districts, 
and  so  expanding  to  counties,  powerful  cities,  States,  and  to  the 
great  Presidential  nominating  conventions — were  getting  to  repre- 
sent and  be  composed  of  more  and  more  putrid  and  dangerous  ma- 
terials. Let  me  give  a  schedule,  or  list,  of  one  of  these  represen- 
tative conventions  for  a  long  time  before,  and  inclusive  of,  that 
which  nominated  Buchanan.  (Remember  they  had  come  to  be 
the  fountains  and  tissues  of  the  American  body  politic,  forming, 
as  it  were,  the  whole  blood,  legislation,  office-holding,  &c.)  One 
of  these  conventions,  from  1840  to  '6o,  exhibited  a  spectacle  such 
as  could  never  be  seen  except  in  our  own  age  and  in  these  States. 
The  members  who  composed  it  were,  seven-eighths  of  them,  the 
meanest  kind  of  bawling  and  blowing  office-holders,  office-seekers, 
pimps,  malignants,  conspirators,  murderers,  fancy-men,  custom- 
house clerks,  contractors,  kept-editors,  spaniels  well-train'd  to 
carry  and  fetch,  jobbers,  infidels,  disunionists,  terrorists,  mail- 
riflers,  slave-catchers,  pushers  of  slavery,  creatures  of  the  Presi- 
dent, creatures  of  would-be  Presidents,  spies,  bribers,  compro- 
misers, lobbyers,  sponges,  ruin'd  sports,  expell'd  gamblers,  policy- 
backers,  monte-dealers,  duellists,  carriers  of  conceal'd  weapons, 
deaf  men,  pimpled  men,  scarr'd  inside  with  vile  disease,  gaudy 
outside  with  gold  chains  made  from  the  people's  money  and  har- 
lots' money  twisted  together ;  crawling,  serpentine  men,  the  lousy 
combings  and  born  freedom-sellers  of  the  earth.  And  whence  came 
they  ?  From  back-yards  and  bar-rooms ;  from  out  of  the  custom- 
houses, marshals'  offices,  post-offices,  and  gambling-hells ;  from  the 
President's  house,  the  jail,  the  station-house  ;  from  unnamed  by- 
places,  where  devilish  disunion  was  hatch'd  at  midnight;  from 
political  hearses,  and  from  the  coffins  inside,  and  from  the  shrouds 
inside  of  the  coffins  ;  from  the  tumors  and  abscesses  of  the  land ; 
from  the  skeletons  and  skulls  in  the  vaults  of  the  federal  alms- 
houses ;  and  from  the  running  sores  of  the  great  cities.  Such,  I 
say,  form'd,  or  absolutely  control'd  the  forming,  of  the  entire 
personnel,  the  atmosphere,  nutriment  and  chyle,  of  our  municipal, 
State,  and  National  politics — substantially  permeating,  handling, 
deciding,  and  wielding  everything — legislation,  nominations, 
elections,  "public  sentiment,"  &c. — while  the  great  masses  of  the 
people,  farmers,  mechanics,  and  traders,  were  helpless  in  their 
gripe.  These  conditions  were  mostly  prevalent  in  the  north  and 
west,  and  especially  in  New  York  and  Philadelphia  cities ;  and 


260  COLLECT. 

the  southern  leaders,  (bad  enough,  but  of  a  far  higher  order,) 
struck  hands  and  affiliated  with,  and  used  them.  Is  it  strange 
that  a  thunder-storm  follow'd  such  morbid  and  stifling  cloud- 
strata? 

I  say  then,  that  what,  as  just  outlined,  heralded,  and  made  the 
ground  ready  for  secession  revolt,  ought  to  be  held  up,  through 
all  the  future,  as  the  most  instructive  lesson  in  American  politi- 
cal history — -the  most  significant  warning  and  beacon-light  to 
coming  generations.  I  say  that  the  sixteenth,  seventeenth  and 
eighteenth  terms  of  the  American  Presidency  have  shown  that 
the  villainy  and  shallowness  of  rulers  (back'd  by  the  machinery 
of  great  parties)  are  just  as  eligible  to  these  States  as  to  any 
foreign  despotism,  kingdom,  or  empire — there  is  not  a  bit  of 
difference.  History  is  to  record  those  three  Presidentiads,  and 
especially  the  administrations  of  Fillmore  and  Buchanan,  as  so 
far  our  topmost  warning  and  shame.  Never  were  publicly  dis- 
play'd  more  deform'd,  mediocre,  snivelling,  unreliable,  false- 
hearted men.  Never  were  these  States  so  insulted,  and  attempted 
to  be  betray'd.  All  the  main  purposes  for  which  the  government 
was  established  were  openly  denied.  The  perfect  equality  of 
slavery  with  freedom  was  flauntingly  preach'd  in  the  north — nay, 
the  superiority  of  slavery.  The  slave  trade  was  proposed  to  be 
renew'd.  Everywhere  frowns  and  misunderstandings — every- 
where exasperations  and  humiliations.  (The  slavery  contest  is 
settled — and  the  war  is  long  over — yet  do  not  those  putrid  con- 
ditions, too  many  of  them,  still  exist?  still  result  in  diseases, 
fevers,  wounds — not  of  war  and  army  hospitals — but  the  wounds 
and  diseases  of  peace?)' 

Out  of  those  generic  influences,  mainly  in  New  York,  Pennsyl- 
vania, Ohio,  &c,  arose  the  attempt  at  disunion.  Xo  philosophi- 
cal examination,  the  malignant  fever  of  that  war  shows  its  em- 
bryonic sources,  and  the  original  nourishment  of  its  life  and 
growth,  in  the  north.  I  say  secession,  below  the  surface,  origi- 
nated and  was  brought  to  maturity  in  the  free  Sfates.  I  allude 
to  the  score  of  years  preceding  i860.  My  deliberate  opinion  is 
now,  that  if  at  the  opening  of  the  contest  the  abstract  duality- 
question  of  slavery  and  quiet  could  have  been  submitted  to  a  di- 
rect popular  vote,  as  against  their  opposite,  they  would  have 
triumphantly  carried  the  day  in  a  majority  of  the  northern 
States — in  the  large  cities,  leading  off  with  New  York  and  Phila- 
delphia, by  tremendous  majorities.  The  events  of  '6i  amazed 
everybody  north  and  south,  and  burst  all  prophecies  and  calcula- 
tions like  bubbles.  But  even  then,  and  during  the  whole  war, 
the  stern  fact  remains  that  (not  only  did  the  north  put  it  down, 


ORIGINS  OF  ATTEMPTED  SECESSION.  26l 

but)  the  secession  cause  had  nuifieric ally  just  as  many  sympathizers 
in  the  free  as  in  the  rebel  States. 

As  to  slavery,  abstractly  and  practically,  (its  idea,  and  the  deter- 
mination to  establish  and  expand  it,  especially  in  the  new  terri- 
tories, the  future  America,)  it  is  too  common,  I  repeat,  to  identify 
it  exclusively  with  the  south.  In  fact  down  to  the  opening  of 
the  war,  the  whole  country  had  about  an  equal  hand  in  it.  The 
north  had  at  least  been  just  as  guilty,  if  not  more  guilty;  and 
the  east  and  west  had.  The  former  Presidents  and  Congresses 
had  been  guilty — the  governors  and  legislatures  of  every  north- 
ern State  had  been  guilty,  and  the  mayors  of  New  York  and  other 
northern  cities  had  all  been  guilty — their  hands  were  all  stain'd. 
And  as  the  conflict  took  decided  shape,  it  is  hard  to  tell  which 
class,  the  leading  southern  or  northern  disunionists,  was  more 
stunn'd  and  disappointed  at  the  non-action  of  the  free-state  seces- 
sion element,  so  largely  existing  and  counted  on  by  those  leaders, 
both  sections. 

So  much  for  that  point,  and  for  the  north.  As  to  the  incep- 
tion and  direct  instigation  of  the  war,  in  the  south  itself,  I  shall 
not  attempt  interiors  or  complications.  Behind  all,  the  idea  that 
it  was  from  a  resolute  and  arrogant  determination  on  the  part  of 
the  extreme  slaveholders,  the  Calhounites,  to  carry  the  states 
rights'  portion  of  the  constitutional  compact  to  its  farthest  verge, 
and  nationalize  slavery,  or  else  disrupt  the  Union,  and  found  a 
new  empire,  with  slavery  for  its  corner-stone,  was  and  is  undoubt- 
edly the  true  theory.  (If  successful,  this  attempt  might — I  am 
not  sure,  but  it  might — have  destroy'd  not  only  our  American 
republic,  in  anything  like  first-class  proportions,  in  itself  and  its 
prestige,  but  for  ages  at  least,  the  cause  of  Liberty  and  Equality 
everywhere — and  would  have  been  the  greatest  triumph  of  reac- 
tion, and  the  severest  blow  to  political  and  every  other  freedom, 
possible  to  conceive.  Its  worst  result  would  have  inured  to  the 
southern  States  themselves.)  That  our  national  democratic  ex- 
periment, principle,  and  machinery,  could  triumphantly  sustain 
such  a  shock,  and  that  the  Constitution  could  weather  it,  like  a 
ship  a  storm,  and  come  out  of  it  as  sound  and  whole  as  before, 
is  by  far  the  most  signal  proof  yet  of  the  stability  of  that  experi- 
ment, Democracy,  and  of  those  principles,  and  that  Constitution. 

Of  the  war  itself,  we  know  in  the  ostent  what  has  been  done. 
The  numbers  of  the  dead  and  wounded  can  be  told  or  approxi- 
mated, the  debt  posted  and  put  on  record,  the  material  events 
narrated,  &c.  Meantime,  elections  go  on,  laws  are  pass'd,  politi- 
cal parties  struggle,  issue  their  platforms,  &c,  just  the  same  as 
before.  But  immensest  results,  not  only  in  politics,  but  in  lite- 
rature, poems,    and   sociology,   are    doubtless   waiting   yet  un- 


262  COLLECT. 

form'd  in  the  future.  How  long  they  will  wait  I  cannot  tell. 
The  pageant  of  history's  retrospect  shows  us,  ages  since,  all  Eu- 
rope marching  on  the  crusades,  those  arm'd  uprisings  o/  the 
people,  stirr'd  by  a  mere  idea,  to  grandest  attempt — and,  when 
once  baffled  in  it,  returning,  at  intervals,  twice,  thrice,  and  again. 
An  unsurpass'd  series  of  revolutionary  events,  influences.  Yet  it 
took  over  two  hundred  years  for  the  seeds  of  the  crusades  to  ger- 
minate, before  beginning  even  to  sprout.  Two  hundred  years 
they  lay,  sleeping,  not  dead,  but  dormant  in  the  ground.  Then, 
out  of  them,  unerringly,  arts,  travel,  navigation,  politics,  litera- 
ture, freedom,  the  spirit  of  adventure,  inquiry,  all  arose,  grew, 
and  steadily  sped  on  to  what  we  see  at  present.  Far  back  there, 
that  huge  agitation-struggle  of  the  crusades  stands,  as  undoubt- 
edly the  embryo,  the  start,  of  the  high  preeminence  of  experi- 
ment, civilization  and  enterprise  which  the  European  nations 
have  since  sustain'd,  and  of  which  these  States  are  the  heirs. 

Another  illustration — (history  is  full  of  them,  although  the 
war  itself,  the  victory  of  the  Union,  and  the  relations  of  our 
equal  States,  present  features  of  which  there  are  no  precedents  in 
the  past.)  The  conquest  of  England  eight  centuries  ago,  by  the 
Franco-Normans — the  obliteration  of  the  old,  (in  many  respects 
so  needing  obliteration) — the  Domesday  Book,  and  the  reparti- 
tion of  the  land — the  old  impedimenta  removed,  even  by  blood 
and  ruthless  violence,  and  a  new,  progressive  genesis  established, 
new  seeds  sown — time  has  proved  plain  enough  that,  bitter  as 
they  were,  all  these  were  the  most  salutary  series  of  revolutions 
that  could  possibly  have  happen'd.  Out  of  them,  and  by  them 
mainly,  have  come,  out  of  Albic,  Roman  and  Saxon  England — 
and  without  them  could  not  have  come — not  only  the  England 
of  the  500  years  down  to  the  present,  and  of  the  present — but 
these  States.  Nor,  except  for  that  terrible  dislocation  and  over- 
turn, would  these  States,  as  they  are,  exist  to-day. 

It  is  certain  to  me  that  the  United  States,  by  virtue  of  that  war 
and  its  results,  and  through  that  and  them  only,  are  now  ready  to 
enter,  and  must  certainly  enter,  upon  their  genuine  career  in  his- 
tory, as  no  more  torn  and  divided  in  their  spinal  requisites,  but  a 
great  homogeneous  Nation — free  states  all — amoral  and  political 
unity  in  variety,  such  as  Nature  shows  in  her  grandest  physical 
works,  and  as  much  greater  than  any  mere  work  of  Nature,  as  the 
moral  and  political,  the  work  of  man,  his  mind,  his  soul,  are,  in 
their  loftiest  sense,  greater  than  the  merely  physical.  Out  of  that 
war  not  only  has  the  nationalty  of  the  States  escaped  from  being 
strangled,  but  more  than  any  of  the  rest,  and,  in  my  opinion, 
more  than  the  north  itself,  the  vital  heart  and  breath  of  the  south 
have  escaped  as  from  the  pressure  of  a  general  nightmare,  and 


PREFACE,  1855.  263 

are  henceforth  to  enter  on  a  life,  development,  and  active  free- 
dom, whose  realities  are  certain  in  the  future,  notwithstanding 
all  the  southern  vexations  of  the  hour — a  development  which 
could  not  possibly  have  been  achiev'd  on  any  less  terms,  or  by 
any  other  means  than  that  grim  lesson,  or  something  equivalent 
to  it.     And  I  predict  that  the  south  is  yet  to  outstrip  the  north. 


PREFACE,  1855, 

to  first  issue  of  ' l  Leaves  of  Grass.  ' ' 

Brooklyn,  N.  Y. 

America  does  not  repel  the  past,  or  what  the  past  has  produced 
under  its  forms,  or  amid  other  politics,  or  the  idea  of  castes,  or 
the  old  religions — accepts  the  lesson  with  calmness — is  not  im- 
patient because  the  slough  still  sticks  to  opinions  and  manners 
and  literature,  while  the  life  which  served  its  requirements  has 
passed  into  the  new  life  of  the  new  forms — perceives  that  the 
corpse  is  slowly  borne  from  the  eating  and  sleeping  rooms  of  the 
house — perceives  that  it  waits  a  little  while  in  the  door — that  it 
was  fittest  for  its  days — that  its  action  has  descended  to  the  stal- 
wart and  well-shaped  heir  who  approaches — and  that  he  shall  be 
fittest  for  his  days. 

The  Americans  of  all  nations  at  anytime  upon  the  earth,  have 
probably  the  fullest  poetical  nature.  The  United  States  them- 
selves are  essentially  the  greatest  poem.  In  the  history  of  the 
earth  hitherto,  the  largest  and  most  stirring  appear  tame  and  or- 
derly to  their  ampler  largeness  and  stir.  Here  at  last  is  some- 
thing in  the  doings  of  man  that  corresponds  with  the  broadcast 
doings  of  the  day  and  night.  Here  is  action  untied  from  strings, 
necessarily  blind  to  particulars  and  details,  magnificently  moving 
in  masses.  Here  is  the  hospitality  which  for  ever  indicates  he- 
roes. Here  the  performance,  disdaining  the  trivial,  unapproach'd 
in  the  tremendous  audacity  of  its  crowds  and  groupings,  and 
the  push  of  its  perspective,  spreads  with  crampless  and  flowing 
breadth,  and  showers  its  prolific  and  splendid  extravagance.  One 
sees  it  must  indeed  own  the  riches  of  the  summer  and  winter, 
and  need  never  be  bankrupt  while  corn  grows  from  the  ground, 
or  the  orchards  drop  apples,  or  the  bays  contain  fish,  or  men 
beget  children  upon  women. 

Other  states  indicate  themselves  in  their  deputies — but  the  ge- 


264  COLLECT. 

nius  of  the  United  States  is  not  best  or  most  in  its  executives  or 
legislatures,  nor  in  its  ambassadors  or  authors,  or  colleges  or 
churches  or  parlors,  nor  even  in  its  newspapapers  or  inventors — 
but  always  most  in  the  common  people,  south,  north,  west,  east, 
in  all  its  States,  through  all  its  mighty  amplitude.  The  largeness 
of  the  nation,  however,  were  monstrous  without  a  corresponding 
largeness  and  generosity  of  the  spirit  of  the  citizen.  Not  swarm- 
ing states,  nor  streets  and  steamships,  nor  prosperous  business, 
nor  farms,  nor  capital,  nor  learning,  may  suffice  for  the  ideal  of 
man — nor  suffice  the  poet.  No  reminiscences  may  suffice  either. 
A  live  nation  can  always  cut  a  deep  mark,  and  can  have  the  best 
authority  the  cheapest — namely,  from  its  own  soul.  This  is  the 
sum  of  the  profitable  uses  of  individuals  or  states,  and  of  present 
action  and  grandeur,  and  of  the  subjects  of  poets.  (As  if  it  were 
necessary  to  trot  back  generation  after  generation  to  the  eastern 
records  !  As  if  the  beauty  and  sacredness  of  the  demonstrable 
must  fall  behind  that  of  the  mythical  !  As  if  men  do  not  make 
their  mark  out  of  any  times  !  As  if  the  opening  of  the  west- 
ern continent  by  discoyery,  and  what  has  transpired  in  North  and 
South  America,  were  less  than  the  small  theatre  of  the  antique, 
or  the  aimless  sleep-walking  of  the  middle  ages  !)  The  pride  of 
the  United  States  leaves  the  wealth  and  finesse  of  the  cities,  and 
all  returns  of  commerce  and  agriculture,  and  all  the  magnitude 
of  geography  or  shows  of  exterior  victory,  to  enjoy  the  sight  and 
realization  of  full-sized  men,  or  one  full-sized  man  unconquerable 
and  simple. 

The  American  poets  are  to  enclose  old  and  new,  for  America 
is  the  race  of  races.  The  expression  of  the  American  poet  is  to 
be  transcendent  and  new.  It  is  to  be  indirect,  and  not  direct  or 
descriptive  or  epic.  Its  quality  goes  through  these  to  much 
more.  Let  the  age  and  wars  of  other  nations  be  chanted,  and 
their  eras  and  characters  be  illustrated,  and  that  finish  the  verse. 
Not  so  the  great  psalm  of  the  republic.  Here  the  theme  is  cre- 
ative, and  has  vista.  Whatever  stagnates  in  the  flat  of  custom  or 
obedience  or  legislation,  the  great  poet  never  stagnates.  Obe- 
dience does  not  master  him,  he  masters  it.  High  up  out  of  reach 
he  stands,  turning  a  concentrated  light — he  turns  the  pivot  with 
his  finger — he  baffles  the  swiftest  runners  as  he  stands,  and  easily 
overtakes  and  envelopes  them.  The  time  straying  toward  infi- 
delity and  confections  and  persiflage  he  withholds  by  steady  faith. 
Faith  is  the  antiseptic  of  the  soul — it  pervades  the  common 
people  and  preserves  them — they  never  give  up  believing  and  ex- 
pecting and  trusting.  There  is  that  indescribable  freshness  and 
unconsciousness  about  an  illiterate  person,  that  humbles  and 
mocks  the  power  of  the  noblest  expressive  genius.     The  poet 


PREFACE,  i8s5-  265 

sees  for  a  certainty  how  one  not  a  great  artist  may  be  just  as 
sacred  and  perfect  as  the  greatest  artist. 

The  power  to  destroy  or  remould  is  freely  used  by  the  greatest 
poet,  but  seldom  the  power  of  attack.  What  is  past  is  past.  If 
he  does  not  expose  superior  models,  and  prove  himself  by  every 
step  he  takes,  he  is  not  what  is  wanted.  The  presence  of  the 
great  poet  conquers — not  parleying,  or  struggling,  or  any  pre- 
pared attempts.  Now  he  has  passed  that  way,  see  after  him  ! 
There  is  not  left  any  vestige  of  despair,  or  misanthropy,  or  cun- 
ning, or  exclusiveness,  or  the  ignominy  of  a  nativity  or  color,  or 
delusion  of  hell  or  the  necessity  of  hell — and  no  man  thencefor- 
ward shall  be  degraded  for  ignorance  or  weakness  or  sin.  The 
greatest  poet  hardly  knows  pettiness  or  triviality.  If  he  breathes 
into  anything  that  was  before  thought  small,  it  dilates  with  the 
grandeur  and  life  of  the  universe.  He  is  a  seer — he  is  individ- 
ual— he  is  complete  in  himself — the  others  are  as  good  as  he,  only 
he  sees  it,  and  they  do  not.  He  is  not  one  of  the  chorus — he 
does  not  stop  for  any  regulation — he  is  the  president  of  regula- 
tion. What  the  eyesight  does  to  the  rest,  he  does  to  the  rest. 
Who  knows  the  curious  mystery  of  the  eyesight?  The  other 
senses  corroborate  themselves,  but  this  is  removed  from  any  proof 
but  its  own,  and  foreruns  the  identities  of  the  spiritual  world. 
A  single  glance  of  it  mocks  all  the  investigations  of  man,  and  all 
the  instruments  and  books  of  the  earth,  and  all  reasoning.  What 
is  marvellous?  what  is  unlikely?  what  is  impossible  or  baseless 
or  vague — after  you  have  once  just  open'd  the  space  of  a  peach- 
pit,  and  given  audience  to  far  and  near,  and  to  the  sunset,  and 
had  all  things  enter  with  electric  swiftness,  softly  and  duly,  with- 
out confusion  or  jostling  or  jam? 

The  land  and  sea,  the  animals,  fishes  and  birds,  the  sky  of 
heaven  and  the  orbs,  the  forests,  mountains  and  rivers,  are  not 
small  themes — but  folks  expect  of  the  poet  to  indicate  more  than 
the  beauty  and  dignity  which  always  attach  to  dumb  real  objects — 
they  expect  him  to  indicate  the  path  between  reality  and  their 
souls.  Men  and  women  perceive  the  beauty  well  enough — prob- 
ably as  well  as  he.  The  passionate  tenacity  of  hunters,  wood- 
men, early  risers,  cultivators  of  gardens  and  orchards  and  fields, 
the  love  of  healthy  women  for  the  manly  form,  seafaring  persons, 
drivers  of  horses,  the  passion  for  light  and  the  open  air,  all  is  an 
old  varied  sign  of  the  unfailing  perception  of  beauty,  and  of  a 
residence  of  the  poetic  in  out-door  people.  They  can  never  be 
assisted  by  poets  to  perceive — some  may,  but  they  never  can. 
The  poetic  quality  is  not  marshal'd  in  rhyme  or  uniformity,  or 
abstract  addresses  to  things,  nor  in  melancholy  complaints  or 
good  precepts,  but  is  the  life  of  these  and  much  else,  and  is  in 

n 


266  COLLECT. 

the  soul.  The  profit  of  rhyme  is  that  it  drops  seeds  of  a  sweeter 
and  more  luxuriant  rhyme,  and  of  uniformity  that  it  conveys 
itself  into  its  own  roots  in  the  ground  out  of  sight.  The  rhyme 
and  uniformity  of  perfect  poems  show  the  free  growth  of  metri- 
cal laws,  and  bud  from  them  as  unerringly  and  loosely  as  lilacs 
and  roses  on  a  bush,  and  take  shapes  as  compact  as  the  shapes  of 
chestnuts  and  oranges,  and  melons  and  pears,  and  shed  the  per- 
fume impalpable  to  form.  The  fluency  and  ornaments  of  the  finest 
poems  or  music  or  orations  or  recitations,  are  not  independent 
but  dependent.  All  beauty  comes  from  beautiful  blood  and  a 
beautiful  brain.  If  the  greatnesses  are  in  conjunction  in  a  man 
or  woman,  it  is  enough — the  fact  will  prevail  through  the  uni- 
verse; but  the  gaggery  and  gilt  of  a  million  years  will  not  pre- 
vail. Who  troubles  himself  about  his  ornaments  or  fluency  is 
lost.  This  is  what  you  shall  do :  Love  the  earth  and  sun  and 
the  animals,  despise  riches,  give  alms  to  every  one  that  asks,  stand 
up  for  the  stupid  and  crazy,  devote  your  income  and  labor  to 
others,  hate  tyrants,  argue  not  concerning  God,  have  patience 
and  indulgence  toward  the  people,  take  off  your  hat  to  nothing 
known  or  unknown,  or  to  any  man  or  number  of  men — go  freely 
with  powerful  uneducated  persons,  and  with  the  young,  and  with 
the  mothers  of  families — re-examine  all  you  have  been  told  in 
school  or  church  or  in  any  book,  and  dismiss  whatever  insults 
your  own  soul ;  and  your  very  flesh  shall  be  a  great  poem,  and 
have  the  richest  fluency,  not  only  in  its  words,  but  in  the  silent 
lines  of  its  lips  and  face,  and  between  the  lashes  of  your  eyes, 
and  in  every  motion  and  joint  of  your  body.  The  poet  shall  not 
spend  his  time  in  unneeded  work.  He  shall  know  that  the  ground 
is  already  plough'd  and  manured  ;  others  may  not  know  it,  but 
he  shall.  He  shall  go  directly  to  the  creation.  His  trust  shall 
master  the  trust  of  everything  he  touches — and  shall  master  all 
attachment. 

The  known  universe  has  one  complete  lover,  and  that  is  the 
greatest  poet.  He  consumes  an  eternal  passion,  and  is  indiffer- 
ent which  chance  happens,  and  which  possible  contingency  of 
fortune  or  misfortune,  and  persuades  daily  and  hourly  his  delicious 
pay.  What  baulks  or  breaks  others  is  fuel  for  his  burning  prog- 
ress to  contact  and  amorous  joy.  Other  proportions  of  the  recep- 
tion of  pleasure  dwindle  to  nothing  to  his  proportions.  All 
expected  from  heaven  or  from  the  highest,  he  is  rapport  with  in 
the  sight  of  the  daybreak,  or  the  scenes  of  the  winter  woods,  or 
the  presence  of  children  playing,  or  with  his  arm  round  the  neck 
of  a  man  or  woman.  His  love  above  all  love  has  leisure  and  ex- 
panse— he  leaves  room  ahead  of  himself.  He  is  no  irresolute  or 
suspicious  lover — he  is  sure — he  scorns  intervals.     His  experience 


PREFACE,  i8j5.  267 

and  the  showers  and  thrills  are  not  for  nothing.  Nothing  can 
jar  him — suffering  and  darkness  cannot — death  and  fear  cannot. 
To  him  complaint  and  jealousy  and  envy  are  corpses  buried  and 
rotten  in  the  earth — he  saw  them  buried.  The  sea  is  not^surer 
of  the  shore,  or  the  shore  of  the  sea,  than  he  is  the  fruition  of 
his  love,  and  of  all  perfection  and  beauty. 

The  fruition  of  beauty  is  no  chance  of  miss  or  hit — it  is  as  in- 
evitable as  life — it  is  exact  and  plumb  as  gravitation.  From  the 
eyesight  proceeds  another  eyesight,  and  from  the  hearing  pro- 
ceeds another  hearing,  and  from  the  voice  proceeds  another  voice, 
eternally  curious  of  the  harmony  of  things  with  man.  These 
understand  the  law  of  perfection  in  masses  and  floods — that  it  is 
profuse  and  impartial — that  there  is  not  a  minute  of  the  light  or 
dark,  nor  an  acre  of  the  earth  and  sea,  without  it — nor  any  di- 
rection of  the  sky,  nor  any  trade  or  employment,  nor  any  turn 
of  events.  This  is  the  reason  that  about  the  proper  expression 
of  beauty  there  is  precision  and  balance.  One  part  does  not  need 
to  be  thrust  above  another.  The  best  singer  is  not  the  one  who 
has  the  most  lithe  and  powerful  organ.  The  pleasure  of  poems 
is  not  in  them  that  take  the  handsomest  measure  and  sound. 

Without  effort,  and  without  exposing  in  the  least  how  it  is 
done,  the  greatest  poet  brings  the  spirit  of  any  or  all  events  and 
passions  and  scenes  and  persons,  some  more  and  some  less,  to 
bear  on  your  individual  character  as  you  hear  or  read.  To  do 
this  well  is  to  compete  with  the  laws  that  pursue  and  follow  Time. 
What  is  the  purpose  must  surely  be  there,  and  the  clue  of  it  must 
be  there — and  the  faintest  indication  is  the  indication  of  the  best, 
and  then  becomes  the  clearest  indication.  Past  and  present  and 
future  are  not  disjoin'd  but  join'd.  The  greatest  poet  forms  the 
consistence  of  what  is  to  be,  from  what  has  been  and  is.  He 
drags  the  dead  out  of  their  coffins  and  stands  them  again  on  their 
feet.  He  says  to  the  past,  Rise  and  walk  before  me  that  I  may 
realize  you.  He  learns  the  lesson — he  places  himself  where  the 
future  becomes  present.  The  greatest  poet  does  not  only  dazzle 
his  rays  over  character  and  scenes  and  passions — he  finally  ascends, 
and  finishes  all — he  exhibits  the  pinnacles  that  no  man  can  tell 
what  they  are  for,  or  what  is  beyond — he  glows  a  moment  on  the 
extremest  verge.  He  is  most  wonderful  in  his  last  half-hidden 
smile  or  frown ;  by  that  flash  of  the  moment  of  parting  the  one 
that  sees  it  shall  be  encouraged  or  terrified  afterward  for  many 
years.  The  greatest  poet  does  not  moralize  or  make  applications 
of  morals — he  knows  the  soul.  The  soul  has  that  measureless 
pride  which  consists  in  never  acknowledging  any  lessons  or  de- 
ductions but  its  own.  But  it  has  sympathy  as  measureless  as  its 
pride,  and  the  one  balances  the  other,  and  neither  can  stretch 


268  COLLECT. 

too  far  while  it  stretches  in  company  with  the  other.  The  in- 
most secrets  of  art  sleep  with  the  twain.  The  greatest  poet  has 
lain  close  betwixt  both,  and  they  are  vital  in  his  style  and 
thoughts. 

The  art  of  art,  the  glory  of  expression  and  the  sunshine  of  the 
light  of  letters,  is  simplicity.  Nothing  is  better  than  simplicity — 
nothing  can  make  up  for  excess,  or  for  the  lack  of  definiteness. 
To  carry  on  the  heave  of  impulse  and  pierce  intellectual  depths 
and  give  all  subjects  their  articulations,  are  powers  neither  com- 
mon nor  very  uncommon.  But  to  speak  in  literature  with  the 
perfect  rectitude  and  insouciance  of  the  movements  of  animals, 
and  the  unimpeachableness  of  the  sentiment  of  trees  in  the  woods 
and  grass  by  the  roadside,  is  the  flawless  triumph  of  art.  If  you 
have  look'd  on  him  who  has  achiev'd  it  you  have  look'd  on  one 
of  the  masters  of  the  artists  of  all  nations  and  times.  You  shall 
not  contemplate  the  flight  of  the  gray  gull  over  the  bay,  or  the 
mettlesome  action  of  the  blood  horse,  or  the  tall  leaning  of  sun- 
flowers on  their  stalk,  or  the  appearance  of  the  sun  journeying 
through  heaven,  or  the  appearance  of  the  moon  afterward,  with 
any  more  satisfaction  than  you  shall  contemplate  him.  The  great 
poet  has  less  a  mark'd  style,  and  is  more  the  channel  of  thoughts 
and  things  without  increase  or  diminution,  and  is  the  free  chan- 
nel of  himself.  He  swears  to  his  art,  I  will  not  be  meddlesome, 
I  will  not  have  in  my  writing  any  elegance,  or  effect,  or  origi- 
nality, to  hang  in  the  way  between  me  and  the  rest  like  curtains. 
I  will  have  nothing  hang  in  the  way,  not  the  richest  curtains. 
What  I  tell  I  tell  for  precisely  what  it  is.  Let  who  may  exalt  or 
startle  or  fascinate  or  soothe,  I  will  have  purposes  as  health  or 
heat  or  snow  has,  and  be  as  regardless  of  observation.  What  I 
experience  or  portray  shall  go  from  my  composition  without  a 
shred  of  my  composition.  You  shall  stand  by  my  side  and  look 
in  the  mirror  with  me. 

The  old  red  blood  and  stainless  gentility  of  great  poets  will 
be  proved  by  their  unconstraint.  A  heroic  person  walks  at  his 
ease  through  and  out  of  that  custom  or  precedent  or  authority 
that  suits  him  not.  Of  the  traits  of  the  brotherhood  of  first- 
class  writers,  savans,  musicians,  inventors  and  artists,  nothing  is 
finer  than  silent  defiance  advancing  from  new  free  forms.  In  the 
need  of  poems,  philosophy,  politics,  mechanism,  science,  beha- 
vior, the  craft  of  art,  an  appropriate  native  grand  opera,  ship- 
craft,  or  any  craft,  he  is  greatest  for  ever  and  ever  who  contrib- 
utes the  greatest  original  practical  example.  The  cleanest  ex- 
pression is  that  which  finds  no  sphere  worthy  of  itself,  and  makes 
one. 

The  messages  of  great  poems  to  each  man  and  woman  are, 


PREFACE,  i8jj.  269 

Come  to  us  on  equal  terms,  only  then  can  you  understand  us. 
We  are  no  better  than  you,  what  we  inclose  you  inclose,  what 
we  enjoy  you  may  enjoy.  Did  you  suppose  there  could  be  only 
one  Supreme?  We  affirm  there  can  be  unnumber'd  Supremes, 
and  that  one  does  not  countervail  another  any  more  than  one 
eyesight  countervails  another — and  that  men  can  be  good  or 
grand  only  of  the  consciousness  of  their  supremacy  within  them. 
What  do  you  think  is  the  grandeur  of  storms  and  dismember- 
ments, and  the  deadliest  battles  and  wrecks,  and  the  wildest  fury 
of  the  elements,  and  the  power  of  the  sea,  and  the  motion  of 
nature,  and  the  throes  of  human  desires,  and  dignity  and  hate 
and  love?  It  is  that  something  in  the  soul  which  says,  Rage  on, 
whirl  on,  I  tread  master  here  and  everywhere — Master  of  the 
spasms  of  the  sky  and  of  the  shatter  of  the  sea,  Master  of  nature 
and  passion  and  death,  and  of  all  terror  and  all  pain. 

The  American  bards  shall  be  mark'd  for  generosity  and  af- 
fection, and  for  encouraging  competitors.  They  shall  be  Kos- 
mos,  without  monopoly  or  secrecy,  glad  to  pass  anything  to  any 
one — hungry  for  equals  night  and  day.  They  shall  not  be  care- 
ful of  riches  and  privilege — they  shall  be  riches  and  privilege — 
they  shall  perceive  who  the  most  affluent  man  is.  The  most  af- 
fluent man  is  he  that  confronts  all  the  shows  he  sees  by  equiva- 
lents out  of  the  stronger  wealth  of  himself.  The  American  bard 
shall  delineate,  no  class  of  persons,  nor  one  or  two  out  of  the  strata 
of  interests,  nor  love  most  nor  truth  most,  nor  the  soul  most, 
nor  the  body  most — and  not  be  for  the  Eastern  states  more  than 
the  Western,  or  the  Northern  states  more  than  the  Southern. 

Exact  science  and  its  practical  movements  are  no  checks  on 
the  greatest  poet,  but  always  his  encouragement  and  support. 
The  outset  and  remembrance  are  there — there  the  arms  that  lifted 
him  first,  and  braced  him  best — there  he  returns  after  all  his 
goings  and  comings.  The  sailor  and  traveler — the  anatomist, 
chemist,  astronomer,  geologist,  phrenologist,  spiritualist,  mathe- 
matician, historian,  and  lexicographer,  are  not  poets,  but  they 
are  the  lawgivers  of  poets,  and  their  construction  underlies  the 
structure  of  every  perfect  poem.  No  matter  what  rises  or  is 
utter'd,  they  sent  the  seed  of  the  conception  of  it — of  them  and 
by  them  stand  the  visible  proofs  of  souls.  If  there  shall  be  love 
and  content  between  the  father  and  the  son,  and  if  the  great- 
ness of  the  son  is  the  exuding  of  the  greatness  of  the  father, 
there  shall  be  love  between  the  poet  and  the  man  of  demonstra- 
ble science.  In  the  beauty  of  poems  are  henceforth  the  tuft  and 
final  applause  of  science. 

Great  is  the  faith  of  the  flush  of  knowledge,  and  of  the  inves- 
tigation of  the  depths  of   qualities  and  things.     Cleaving  and 


270 


COLLECT. 


circling  here  swells  the  soul  of  the  poet,  yet  is  president  of  itself 
always.  The  depths  are  fathomless,  and  therefore  calm.  The  in- 
nocence and  nakedness  are  resumed — they  are  neither  modest 
nor  immodest.  The  whole  theory  of  the  supernatural,  and  all 
that  was  twined  with  it  or  educed  out  of  it,  departs  as  a  dream. 
What  has  ever  happen'd — what  happens,  and  whatever  may  or 
shall  happen,  the  vital  laws  inclose  all.  They  are  sufficient  for 
any  case  and  for  all  cases — none  to  be  hurried  or  retarded — 
any  special  miracle  of  affairs  or  persons  inadmissible  in  the  vast 
clear  scheme  where  every  motion  and  every  spear  of  grass,  and  the 
frames  and  spirits  of  men  and  women  and  all  that  concerns  them, 
are  unspeakably  perfect  miracles,  all  referring  to  all,  and  each 
distinct  and  in  its  place.  It  is  also  not  consistent  with  the  reality 
of  the  soul  to  admit  that  there  is  anything  in  the  known  universe 
more  divine  than  men  -and  women. 

Men  and  women,  and  the  earth  and  all  upon  it,  are  to  be  taken 
as  they  are,  and  the  investigation  of  their  past  and  present  and 
future  shall  be  unintermitted,  and  shall  be  done  with  perfect  can- 
dor. Upon  this  basis  philosophy  speculates,  ever  looking  towards 
the  poet,  ever  regarding  the  eternal  tendencies  of  all  toward 
happiness,  never  inconsistent  with  what  is  clear  to  the  senses  and 
to  the  soul.  For  the  eternal  tendencies  of  all  toward  happiness 
make  the  only  point  of  sane  philosophy.  Whatever  comprehends 
less  than  that — whatever  is  less  than  the  laws  of  light  and  of  as- 
tronomical motion — or  less  than  the  laws  that  follow  the  thief, 
the  liar,  the  glutton  and  the  drunkard,  through  this  life  and 
doubtless  afterward — or  less  than  vast  stretches  of  time,  or  the 
slow  formation  of  density,  or  the  patient  upheaving  of  strata — is 
of  no  account.  Whatever  would  put  God  in  a  poem  or  system 
of  philosophy  as  contending  against  some  being  or  influence, 
is  also  of  no  account.  Sanity  and  ensemble  characterize  the  great 
master — spoilt  in  one  principle,  ail  is  spoilt.  The  great  master 
has  nothing  to  do  with  miracles.  He  sees  health  for  himself  in 
being  one  of  the  mass — he  sees  the  hiatus  in  singular  eminence. 
To  the  perfect  shape  comes  common  ground.  To  be  under  the 
general  law  is  great,  for  that  is  to  correspond  with  it.  The  master 
knows  that  he  is  unspeakably  great,  and  that  all  are  unspeakably 
great — that  nothing,  for  instance,  is  greater  than  to  conceive 
children,  and  bring  them  up  well — that  to  be  is  just  as  great  as  to 
perceive  or  tell. 

In  the  make  of  the  great  masters  the  idea  of  political  liberty 
is  indispensable.  Liberty  takes  the  adherence  of  heroes  wherever 
man  and  woman  exist — but  never  takes  any  adherence  or  welcome 
from  the  rest  more  than  from  poets.  They  are  the  voice  and  ex- 
position of  liberty.    They  out  of  ages  are  worthy  the  grand  idea 


PREFACE,  i8js.  271 

— to  them  it  is  confided,  and  they  must  sustain  it.     Nothing  has 
precedence  of  it,  and  nothing  can  warp  or  degrade  it. 

As  the  attributes  of  the  poets  of  the  kosmos  concentre  in  the 
real  body,  and  in  the  pleasure  of  things,  they  possess  the  superi- 
ority of  genuineness  over  all  fiction  and  romance.     As  they  emit 
themselves,  facts  are  shower'd  over  with  light — the  daylight  is 
lit  with  more  volatile  light — the  deep  between  the  setting  and 
rising  sun  goes  deeper  many  fold.     Each  precise  object  or  condi- 
tion or  combination  or  process  exhibits  a  beauty — the  multipli- 
cation table  its — old  age  its — the  carpenter's  trade  its — the  grand 
opera  its — the  huge-hull'd  clean-shap'd  New  York  clipper  at  sea 
under  steam  or  full  sail   gleams  with    unmatched    beauty — the 
American  circles  and  large  harmonies  of  government  gleam  with 
theirs — and  the  commonest  definite  intentions  and  actions  with 
theirs.     The  poets  of  the  kosmos  advance  through  all  interposi- 
tions and  coverings  and  turmoils  and  stratagems  to  first  princi- 
ples.    They  are  of  use — they  dissolve  poverty  from  its  need,  and 
riches  from  its  conceit.     You  large  proprietor,  they  say,  shall  not 
realize  or  perceive  more  than  any  one  else.     The  owner  of  the  li- 
brary is  not  he  who  holds  a  legal  title  to  it,  having  bought  and  paid 
for  it.     Any  one  and  every  one  is  owner  of  the  library,   (in- 
deed he  or  she  alone  is  owner,)  who  can  read  the  same  through 
all  the  varieties  of  tongues  and  subjects  and  styles,  and  in  whom 
they  enter  with  ease,  and  make  supple  and  powerful  and  rich 
and  large. 

These  American  States,  strong  and  healthy  and  accomplished, 
shall  receive  no  pleasure  from  violations  of  natural  models,  and 
must  not  permit  them.  In  paintings  or  mouldings  or  carvings  in 
mineral  or  wood,  or  in  the  illustrations  of  books  or  newspapers, 
or  in  the  patterns  of  woven  stuffs,  or  anything  to  beautify  rooms 
or  furniture  or  costumes,  or  to  put  upon  cornices  or  monuments,  or 
on  the  prows  or  sterns  of  ships,  or  to  put  anywhere  before  the 
human  eye  indoors  or  out,  that  which  distorts  honest  shapes,  or 
which  creates  unearthly  beings  or  places  or  contingencies,  is  a 
nuisance  and  revolt.  Of  the  human  form  especially,  it  is  so  great 
it  must  never  be  made  ridiculous.  Of  ornaments  to  a  work  noth- 
ing outre  can  be  allow' d — but  those  ornaments  can  be  allow' d 
that  conform  to  the  perfect  facts  of  the  open  air,  and  that  flow 
out  of  the  nature  of  the  work,  and  come  irrepressibly  from  it, 
and  are  necessary  to  the  completion  of  the  work.  Most  works 
are  most  beautiful  without  ornament.  Exaggerations  will  be  re- 
venged in  human  physiology.  Clean  and  vigorous  children  are 
jetted  and  conceiv'd  only  in  those  communities  where  the  models 
of  natural  forms  are  public  every  day.  Great  genius  and  the 
people  of  these  States  must   never  be   demean'd  to  romances. 


272  COLLECT. 

As   soon  as  histories   are   properly  told,  no  more   need  of  ro- 
mances. 

The  great  poets  are  to  be  known  by  the  absence  in  them  of 
tricks,  and  by  the  justification  of  perfect  personal  candor.  All 
faults  may  be  forgiven  of  him  who  has  perfect  candor.  Hence- 
forth let  no  man  of  us  lie,  for  we  have  seen  that  openness  wins 
the  inner  and  outer  world,  and  that  there  is  no  single  exception, 
and  that  never  since  our  earth  gather'd  itself  in  a  mass  have  de- 
ceit or  subterfuge  or  prevarication  attracted  its  smallest  particle 
or  the  faintest  tinge  of  a  shade — and  that  through  the  envelop- 
ing wealth  and  rank  of  a  state,  or  the  whole  republic  of  states,  a 
sneak  or  sly  person  shall  be  discover' d  and  despised — and  that 

the  soul  has  never  once  -been  fool'd  and  never  can  be  fool'd 

and  thrift  without  the  loving  nod  of  the  soul  is  only  a  fcetid  puff 
— and  there  never  grew  up  in  any  of  the  continents  of  the  globe, 
nor  upon  any  planet  or  satellite,  nor  in  that  condition  which  pre- 
cedes the  birth  of  babes,  nor  at  any  time  during  the  changes  of 
life,  nor  in  any  stretch  of  abeyance  or  action  of  vitality,  nor  in 
any  process  of  formation  or  reformation  anywhere,  a  being  whose 
instinct  hated  the  truth. 

Extreme  caution  or  prudence,  the  soundest  organic  health, 
large  hope  and  comparison  and  fondness  for  women  and  chil- 
dren, large  alimentiveness  and  destructiveness  and  causality,  with 
a  perfect  sense  of  the  oneness  of  nature,  and  the  propriety  of  the 
same  spirit  applied  to  human  affairs,  are  called  up  of  the  float  of  the 
brain  of  the  world  to  be  parts  of  the  greatest  poet  from  his  birth  out 
of  his  mother's  womb,  and  from  her  birth  out  of  her  mother's. 
Caution  seldom  goes  far  enough.  It  has  been  thought  that  the  pru- 
dent citizen  was  the  citizen  who  applied  himself  to  solid  gains, 
and  did  well  for  himself  and  for  his  family,  and  completed  a  law- 
ful life  without  debt  or  crime.  The  greatest  poet  sees  and  admits 
these  economies  as  he  sees  the  economies  of  food  and  sleep,  but 
has  higher  notions  of  prudence  than  to  think  he  gives  much  when 
he  gives  a  few  slight  attentions  at  the  latch  of  the  gate.  The 
premises  of  the  prudence  of  life  are  not  the  hospitality  of  it,  or 
the  ripeness  and  harvest  of  it.  Beyond  the  independence  of  a 
little  sum  laid  aside  for  burial-money,  and  of  a  few  clap-boards 
around  and  shingles  overhead  on  a  lot  of  American  soil  own'd, 
and  the  easy  dollars  that  supply  the  year's  plain  clothing  and 
meals,  the  melancholy  prudence  of  the  abandonment  of  such  a 
great  being  as  a  man  is,  to  the  toss  and  pallor  of  years  of  money- 
making,  with  all  their  scorching  days  and  icy  nights,  and  all 
their  stifling  deceits  and  underhand  dodgings,  or  infinitesimals 
of  parlors,  or  shameless  stuffing  while  others  starve,  and  all  the 
loss  of  the  bloom  and  odor  of  the  earth,  and  of  the  flowers  and 


PREFACE,  i8js-  273 

atmosphere,  and  of  the  sea,  and  of  the  true  taste  of  the  women 
and  men  you  pass  or  have  to  do  with  in  youth  or  middle  age,  and 
the  issuing  sickness  and  desperate  revolt  at  the  close  of  a  life 
without  elevation  or  naivete,  (even  if  you  have  achiev'd  a  secure 
10,000  a  year,  or  election  to  Congress  or  the  Governorship,)  and 
the  ghastly  chatter  of  a  death  without  serenity  or  majesty,  is  the 
great  fraud  upon  modern  civilization  and  forethought,  blotching 
the  surface  and  system  which  civilization  undeniably  drafts,  and 
moistening  with  tears  the  immense  features  it  spreads  and  spreads 
with  such  velocity  before  the  reach'd  kisses  of  the  soul. 

Ever  the  right  explanation  remains  to  be  made  about  prudence. 
The  prudence  of  the  mere  wealth  and  respectability  of  the  most 
esteem'd  life  appears  too  faint  for  the  eye  to  observe  at  all,  when 
little  and  large  alike  drop  quietly  aside  at  the  thought  of  the  pru- 
dence suitable  for  immortality.  What  is  the  wisdom  that  fills  the 
thinness  of  a  year,  or  seventy  or  eighty  years — to  the  wisdom 
spaced  out  by  ages,  and  coming  back  at  a  certain  time  with  strong 
reinforcements  and  rich  presents,  and  the  clear  faces  of  wedding- 
guests  as  far  as  you  can  look,  in  every  direction,  running  gaily 
toward  you?  Only  the  soul  is  of  itself — all  else  has  reference  to 
what  ensues.  All  that  a  person  does  or  thinks  is  of  consequence. 
Nor  can  the  push  of  charity  or  personal  force  ever  be  anything 
else  than  the  profoundest  reason,  whether  it  brings  argument  to 
hand  or  no.  No  specification  is  necessary — to  add  or  subtract 
or  divide  is  in  vain.  Little  or  big,  learn'd  or  unlearn'd,  white 
or  black,  legal  or  illegal,  sick  or  well,  from  the  first  inspiration 
down  the  windpipe  to  the  last  expiration  out  of  it,  all  that  a  male 
or  female  does  that  is  vigorous  and  benevolent  and  clean  is  so 
much  sure  profit  to  him  or  her  in  the  unshakable  order  of  the 
universe,  and  through  the  whole  scope  of  it  forever.  The  pru- 
dence of  the  greatest  poet  answers  at  last  the  craving  and  glut 
of  the  soul,  puts  off  nothing,  permits  no  let-up  for  its  own  case 
or  any  case,  has  no  particular  sabbath  or  judgment  day,  divides 
not  the  living  from  the  dead,  or  the  righteous  from  the  unright- 
eous, is  satisfied  with  the  present,  matches  every  thought  or  act 
by  its  correlative,  and  knows  no  possible  forgiveness  or  deputed 
atonement. 

The  direct  trial  of  him  who  would  be  the  greatest  poet  is  to- 
day. If  he  does  not  flood  himself  with  the  immediate  age  as 
with  vast  oceanic  tides — if  he  be  not  himself  the  age  transfigur'd, 
and  if  to  him  is  not  open'd  the  eternity  which  gives  similitude 
to  all  periods  and  locations  and  processes,  and  animate  and  in- 
animate forms,  and  which  is  the  bond  of  time,  and  rises  up  from 
its  inconceivable  vagueness  and  infiniteness  in  the  swimming 
shapes  of  to-day,  and  is  held  by  the  ductile  anchors  of  life,  and 


274  COLLECT. 

makes  the  present  spot  the  passage  from  what  was  to  what  shall 
be,  and  commits  itself  to  the  representation  of  this  wave  of  an 
hour,  and  this  one  of  the  sixty  beautiful  children  of  the  wave — 
let  him  merge  in  the  general  run,  and  wait  his  development. 

Still  the  final  test  of  poems,  or  any  character  or  work,  remains. 
The  prescient  poet  projects  himself  centuries  ahead,  and  judges 
performer  or  performance  after  the  changes  of  time.  Does  it 
live  through  them  ?  Does  it  still  hold  on  untired  ?  Will  the 
same  style,  and  the  direction  of  genius  to  similar  points,  be  satis- 
factory now?  Have  the  marches  of  tens  and  hundreds  and 
thousands  of  years  made  willing  detours  to  the  right  hand  and 
the  left  hand  for  his  sake  ?  Is  he  beloved  long  and  long  after  he 
is  buried  ?  Does  the  young  man  think  often  of  him  ?  and  the 
young  woman  think  often  of  him?  and  do  the  middle-aged  and 
the  old  think  of  him? 

A  great  poem  is  for  ages  and  ages  in  common,  and  for  all  de- 
grees and  complexions,  and  all  departments  and  sects,  and  for  a 
woman  as  much  as  a  man,  and  a  man  as  much  as  a  woman.  A  great 
poem  is  no  finish  to  a  man  or  woman,  but  rather  a  beginning. 
Has  any  one  fancied  he  could  sit  at  last  under  some  due  authority, 
and  rest  satisfied  with  explanations,  and  realize,  and  be  content 
and  full  ?  To  no  such  terminus  does  the  greatest  poet  bring — 
he  brings  neither  cessation  nor  shelter'd  fatness  and  ease.  The 
touch  of  him,  like  Nature,  tells  in  action.  Whom  he  takes  he 
takes  with  firm  sure  grasp  into  live  regions  previously  unattain'd 
— thenceforward  is  no  rest — they  see  the  space  and  ineffable  sheen 
that  turn  the  old  spots  and  lights  into  dead  vacuums.  Now  there 
shall  be  a  man  cohered  out  of  tumult  and  chaos — the  elder  en- 
courages the  younger  and  shows  him  how — they  two  shall  launch 
off  fearlessly  together  till  the  new  world  fits  an  orbit  for  itself, 
and  looks  unabash'd  on  the  lesser  orbits  of  the  stars,  and  sweeps 
through  the  ceaseless  rings,  and  shall  never  be  quiet  again. 

There  will  soon  be  no  more  priests.  Their  work  is  done.  A 
new  order  shall  arise,  and  they  shall  be  the  priests  of  man,  and 
every  man  shall  be  his  own  priest.  They  shall  find  their  inspira- 
tion in  real  objects  to-day,  symptoms  of  the  past  and  future. 
They  shall  not  deign  to  defend  immortality  or  God,  or  the  per- 
fection of  things,  or  liberty,  or  the  exquisite  beauty  and  reality 
of  the  soul.  They  shall  arise  in  America,  and  be  responded  to 
from  the  remainder  of  the  earth. 

The  English  language  befriends  the  grand  American  expres- 
sion— it  is  brawny  enough,  and  limber  and  full  enough.  On  the 
tough  stock  of  a  race  who  through  all  change  of  circumstance 
was  never  without  the  idea  of  political  liberty,  which  is  the  animus 
of  all  liberty,  it  has  attracted  the  terms  of  daintier  and  gayer  and 


PREFACE,  1872.  275 

subtler  and  more  elegant  tongues.  It  is  the  powerful  language  of 
resistance — it  is  the  dialect  of  common  sense.  It  is  the  speech 
of  the  proud  and  melancholy  races,  and  of  all  who  aspire.  It  is 
the  chosen  tongue  to  express  growth,  faith,  self-esteem,  freedom, 
justice,  equality,  friendliness,  amplitude,  prudence,  decision,  and 
courage.  It  is  the  medium  that  shall  wellnigh  express  the  inex- 
pressible. 

No  great  literature,  nor  any  like  style  of  behavior  or  oratory, 
or  social  intercourse  or  household  arrangements,  or  public  insti- 
tutions, or  the  treatment  by  bosses  of  employ' d  people,  nor  ex- 
ecutive detail,  or  detail  of  the  army  and  navy,  nor  spirit  of  leg- 
islation or  courts,  or  police  or  tuition  or  architecture,  or  songs 
or  amusements,  can  long  elude  the  jealous  and  passionate  instinct 
of  American  standards.  Whether  or  no  the  sign  appears  from 
the  mouths  of  the  people,  it  throbs  a  live  interrogation  in  every 
freeman's  and  freewoman's  heart,  after  that  which  passes  by,  or 
this  built  to  remain.  Is  it  uniform  with  my  country?  Are  its 
disposals  without  ignominious  distinctions  ?  Is  it  for  the  ever- 
growing communes  of  brothers  and  lovers,  large,  well  united, 
proud,  beyond  the  old  models,  generous  beyond  all  models?  Is 
it  something  grown  fresh  out  of  the  fields,  or  drawn  from  the  sea 
for  use  to  me  to-day  here  ?  I  know  that  what  answers  for  me,  an  . 
American,  in  Texas,  Ohio,  Canada,  must  answer  for  any  individ- 
ual or  nation  that  serves  for  a  part  of  my  materials.  Does  this 
answer  ?  Is  it  for  the  nursing  of  the  young  of  the  republic  ? 
Does  it  solve  readily  with  the  sweet  milk  of  the  nipples  of  the 
breasts  of  the  Mother  of  Many  Children  ? 

America  prepares  with  composure  and  good-will  for  the  visitors 
that  have  sent  word.  It  is  not  intellect  that  is  to  be  their  war- 
rant and  welcome.  The  talented,  the  artist,  the  ingenious,  the 
editor,  the  statesman,  the  erudite,  are  not  unappreciated — they 
fall  in  their  place  and  do  their  work.  The  soul  of  the  nation 
also  does  its  work.  It  rejects  none,  it  permits  all.  Only  toward 
the  like  of  itself  will  it  advance  half  way.  An  individual  is  as 
superb  as  a  nation  when  he  has  the  qualities  which  make  a  superb 
nation.  The  soul  of  the  largest  and  wealthiest  and  proudest  na- 
tion may  well  go  half-way  to  meet  that  of  its  poets. 


PREFACE,  1872, 

to  "  As  a  Strong  Bird on- Pinions  Free" 

{now  "  Thou  Mother  with  thy  Equal  Brood  "  in  permanent  ed'n.) 

The  impetus  and  ideas  urging  me,  for  some  years  past,  to  an 
utterance,  or  attempt  at  utterance,  of  New  World  songs,  and  an 


276  COLLECT. 

epic  of  Democracy,  having  already  had  their  published  expres- 
sion, as  well  as  I  can  expect  to  give  it,  in  "  Leaves  of  Grass," 
the  present  and  any  future  pieces  from  me  are  really  but  the  sur- 
plusage forming  after  that  volume,  or  the  wake  eddying  behind 
it.  I  fulfill'd  in  that  an  imperious  conviction,  and  the  commands 
of  my  nature  as  total  and  irresistible  as  those  which  make  the 
sea  flow,  or  the  globe  revolve.  But  of  this  supplementary  volume, 
I  confess  I  am  not  so  certain.  Having  from  early  manhood  aban- 
don'd  the  business  pursuits  and  applications  usual  in  my  time 
and  country,  and  obediently  yielded  myself  up  ever  since  to  the 
impetus  mention'd,  and  to  the  work  of  expressing  those  ideas,  it 
may  be  that  mere  habit  has  got  dominion  of  me,  when  there  is 
no  real  need  of  saying  any  thing  further.  But  what  is  life  but 
an  experiment?  and  mortality  but  an  exercise?  with  reference  to 
results  beyond.  And  so  shall  my  poems  be.  If  incomplete  here, 
and  superfluous  there,  riimporte — the  earnest  trial  and  persistent 
exploration  shall  at  least  be  mine,  and  other  success  failing  shall 
be  success  enough.  I  have  been  more  anxious,  anyhow,  to  suggest 
the  songs  of  vital  endeavor  and  manly  evolution,  and  furnish 
something  for  races  of  outdoor  rthletes,  than  to  make  perfect 
rhymes,  or  reign  in  the  parlors.  I  ventur'd  from  the  beginning 
my  own  way,  taking  chances — and  would  keep  on  venturing. 

I  will  therefore  not  conceal  from  any  persons,  known  or  un- 
known to  me,  who  take  an  interest  in  the  matter,  that  I  have  the 
ambition  of  devoting  yet  a  few  years  to  poetic  composition. 
The  mighty  present  age !  To  absorb  and  express  in  poetry,  any- 
thing of  it — of  its  world — America — cities  and  States — the  years, 
the  events  of  our  Nineteenth  century — the  rapidity  of  movement 
— the  violent  contrasts,  fluctuations  of  light  and  shade,  of  hope 
and  fear — the  entire  revolution  made  by  science  in  the  poetic 
method — these  great  new  underlying  facts  and  new  ideas  rushing 
and  spreading  everywhere ; — truly  a  mighty  age  !  As  if  in  some 
colossal  drama,  acted  again  like  those  of  old  under  the  open 
sun,  the  Nations  of  our  time,  and  all  the  characteristics  of  Civi- 
lization, seem  hurrying,  stalking  across,  flitting  from  wing  to  wing, 
gathering,  closing  up,  toward  some  long-prepared,  most  tremen- 
dous denouement.  Not  to  conclude  the  infinite  scenas  of  the 
race's  life  and  toil  and  happiness  and  sorrow,  but  haply  that  the 
boards  be  clear'd  from  oldest,  worst  incumbrances,  accumulations, 
and  Man  resume  the  eternal  play  anew,  and  under  happier,  freer 
auspices.  To  me,  the  United  States  are  important  because  in 
this  colossal  drama  they  are  unquestionably  designated  for  the 
leading  parts,  for  many  a  century  to  come.  In  them  history  and 
humanity  seem  to  seek  to  culminate.  Our  broad  areas  are  even 
now  the  busy  theatre  of  plots,  passions,  interests,  and  suspended 


PREFACE,  1872.  277 

problems,  compared  to  which  the  intrigues  of  the  past  of  Europe, 
the  wars  of  dynasties,  the  scope  of  kings  and  kingdoms,  and  even 
the  development  of  peoples,  as  hitherto,  exhibit  scales  of  meas- 
urement comparatively  narrow  and  trivial.  And  on  these  areas 
of  ours,  as  on  a  stage,  sooner  or  later,  something  like  an  eclair- 
cissement  of  all  the  past  civilization  of  Europe  and  Asia  is  proba- 
bly to  be  evolved. 

The  leading  parts.  Not  to  be  acted,  emulated  here,  by  us  again, 
that  role  till  now  foremost  in  history — not  to  become  a  conqueror 
nation,  or  to  achieve  the  glory  of  mere  military,  or  diplomatic, 
or  commercial  superiority — but  to  become  the  grand  producing 
land  of  nobler  men  and  women — of  copious  races,  cheerful, 
healthy,  tolerant,  free — to  become  the  most  friendly  nation,  (the 
United  States  indeed) — the  modern  composite  nation,  form'd 
from  all,  with  room  for  all,  welcoming  all  immigrants — accepting 
the  work  of  our  own  interior  development,  as  the  work  fitly  fill- 
ing ages  and  ages  to  come ; — the  leading  nation  of  peace,  but 
neither  ignorant  nor  incapable  of  being  the  leading  nation  of 
war  ; — not  the  man's  nation  only,  but  the  woman's  nation — a  land 
of  splendid  mothers,  daughters,  sisters,  wives. 

Our  America  to-day  I  consider  in  many  respects  as  but  indeed 
a  vast  seething  mass  of  materials,  ampler,  better,  (worse  also,) 
than  previously  known — eligible  to  be  used  to  carry  towards  its 
crowning  stage,  and  build  for  good,  the  great  ideal  nationality  of 
the  future,  the  nation  of  the  body  and  the  soul,* — no  limit  here 
to  land,  help,  opportunities,  mines,  products,  demands,  supplies, 
&c.  ; — with  (I  think)  our  political  organization,  National,  State, 
and  Municipal,  permanently  established,  as  far  ahead  as  we  can 
calculate — but,  so  far,  no  social,  literary,  religious,  or  esthetic 
organizations,  consistent  with  our  politics,  or  becoming  to  us — 
which  organizations  can  only  come,  in  time,  through  great  demo- 
cratic ideas,  religion — through  science,  which  now,  like  a  new  sun- 
rise, ascending,  begins  to  illuminate  all — and  through  our  own 
begotten  poets  and  literatuses.  (The  moral  of  a  late  well-written 
book  on  civilization  seems  to  be  that  the  only  real  foundation- 
walls  and  bases — and  also  sine  qua  non  afterward — of  true  and 

*  The  problems  of  the  achievements  of  this  crowning  stage  through  future 
first-class  National  Singers,  Orators,  Artists,  and  others — of  creating  in  litera- 
ture an  imaginative  New  World,  the  correspondent  and  counterpart  of  the 
current  Scientific  and  Political  New  Worlds, — and  the  perhaps  distant,  but  still 
delightful  prospect,  (for  our  children,  if  not  in  our  own  day,)  of  delivering 
America,  and,  indeed,  all  Christian  lands  everywhere,  from  the  thin  moribund 
and  watery,  but  appallingly  extensive  nuisance  of  conventional  poetry — by 
putting  something  really  alive  and  substantial  in  its  place — I  have  undertaken 
to  grapple  with,  and  argue,  in  the  preceding  "  Democratic  Vistas." 


278  COLLECT. 

full  civilization,  is  the  eligibility  and  certainty  of  boundless  prod- 
ucts for  feeding,  clothing,  sheltering  everybody — perennial  foun- 
tains of  physical  and  domestic  comfort,  with  intercommunica- 
tion, and  with  civil  and  ecclesiastical  freedom — and  that  then 
the  esthetic  and  mental  business  will  take  care  of  itself.  Well, 
the  United  States  have  established  this  basis,  and  upon  scales  of 
extent,  variety,  vitality,  and  continuity,  rivaling  those  of  Nature; 
and  have  now  to  proceed  to  build  an  edifice  upon  it.  I  say  this 
edifice  is  only  to  be  fitly  built  by  new  literatures,  especially  the 
poetic.  I  say  a  modern  image-making  creation  is  indispensable 
to  fuse  and  express  the  modern  political  and  scientific  creations 
— and  then  the  trinity  will  be  complete.) 

When  I  commenced,  years  ago,  elaborating  the  plan  of  my 
poems,  and  continued  turning  over  that  plan,  and  shifting  it  in 
my  mind  through  many  years,  (from  the  age  of  twenty-eight  to 
thirty-five,)  experimenting  much,  and  writing  and  abandoning 
much,  one  deep  purpose  underlay  the  others,  and  has  underlain 
it  and  its  execution  ever  since — and  that  has  been  the  religious 
purpose.  Amid  many  changes,  and  a  formulation  taking  far 
different  shape  from  what  I  at  first  supposed,  this  basic  purpose 
has  never  been  departed  from  in  the  composition  of  my  verses. 
Not  of  course  to  exhibit  itself  in  the  old  ways,  as  in  writing 
hymns  or  psalms  with  an  eye  to  the  church-pew,  or  to  express 
conventional  pietism,  or  the  sickly  yearnings  of  devotees,  but  in 
new  ways,  and  aiming  at  the  widest  sub-bases  and  inclusions  of 
humanity,  and  tallying  the  fresh  air  of  sea  and  land.  I  will  see, 
(said  I  to  myself,)  whether  there  is  not,  for  my  purposes  as  poet, 
a  religion,  and  a  sound  religious,  germenancy  in  the  average  hu- 
man race,  at  least  in  their  modern  development  in  the  United 
States,  and  in  the  hardy  common  fibre  and  native  yearnings  and 
elements,  deeper  and  larger,  and  affording  more  profitable  re- 
turns, than  all  mere  sects  or  churches — as  boundless,  joyous,  and 
vital  as  Nature  itself — a  germenancy  that  has  too  long  been  unen- 
couraged,  unsung,  almost  unknown.  With  science,  the  old 
theology  of  the  East,  long  in  its  dotage,  begins  evidently  to  die 
and  disappear.  But  (to  my  mind)  science — and  may  be  such 
will  prove  its  principal  service — as  evidently  prepares  the  way 
for  One  indescribably  grander — Time's  young  but  perfect  off- 
spring— the  new  theology — heir  of  the  West — lusty  and  loving, 
and  wondrous  beautiful.  For  America,  and  for  to-day,  just  the 
same  as  any  day,  the  supreme  and  final  science  is  the  science  of 
God — what  we  call  science  being  only  its  minister — as  Democ- 
racy is,  or  shall  be  also.  And  a  poet  of  America  (I  said)  must  fill 
himself  with  such  thoughts,  and  chant  his  best  out  of  them. 
And  as  those  were  the  convictions  and  aims,  for  good  or  bad,  of 


PREFACE,  1872.  279 

"Leaves  of  Grass,"  they  are  no  less  the  intention  of  this  vol- 
ume. As  there  can  be,  in  my  opinion,  no  sane  and  complete 
personality,  nor  any  grand  and  electric  nationality,  without  the 
stock  element  of  religion  imbuing  all  the  other  elements,  (like 
heat  in  chemistry,  invisible  itself,  but  the  life  of  all  visible  life,) 
so  there  can  be  no  poetry  worthy  the  name  without  that  element 
behind  all.  The  time  has  certainly  come  to  begin  to  discharge 
the  idea  of  religion,  in  the  United  States,  from  mere  ecclesiasti- 
cism,  and  from  Sundays  and  churches  and  church-going,  and 
assign  it  to  that  general  position,  chiefest,  most  indispensable, 
most  exhilarating,  to  which  the  others  are  to  be  adjusted,  inside 
of  all  human  character,  and  education,  and  affairs.  The  people, 
especially  the  young  men  and  women  of  America,  must  begin  to 
learn  that  religion,  (like  poetry,)  is  something  far,  far  different 
from  what  they  supposed.  It  is,  indeed,  too  important  to  the 
power  and  perpetuity  of  the  New  World  to  be  consign'd  any 
longer  to  the  churches,  old  or  new,  Catholic  or  Protestant — 
Saint  this,  or  Saint  that.  It  must  be  consign'd  henceforth  to 
democracy  en  masse,  and  to  literature.  It  must  enter  into  the 
poems  of  the  nation.     It  must  make  the  nation. 

The  Four  Years'  War  is  over — and  in  the  peaceful,  strong, 
exciting,  fresh  occasions  of  to-day,  and  of  the  future,  that 
strange,  sad  war  is  hurrying  even  now  to  be  forgotten.  The 
camp,  the  drill,  the  lines  of  sentries,  the  prisons,  the  hospitals, 
— (ah  !  the  hospitals  !) — all  have  passed  away — all  seem  now  like 
a  dream.  A  new  race,  a  young  and  lusty  generation,  already 
sweeps  in  Vith  oceanic  currents,  obliterating  the  War,  and  all  its 
scars,  its  mounded  graves,  and  all  its  reminiscences  of  hatred, 
conflict,  death.  So  let  it  be  obliterated.  I  say  the  life  of  the 
present  and  the  future  makes  undeniable  demands  upon  us  each 
and  all,  south,  north,  east,  west.  To  help  put  the  United  States 
(even  if  only  in  imagination)  hand  in  hand,  in  one  unbroken 
circle  in  a  chant — to  rouse  them  to  the  unprecedented  grandeur 
of  the  part  they  are  to  play,  and  are  even  now  playing — to  the 
thought  of  their  great  future,  and  the  attitude  conform'd  to  it — 
especially  their  great  esthetic,  moral,  scientific  future,  (of  which 
their  vulgar  material  and  political  present  is  but  as  the  prepara- 
tory tuning  of  instruments  by  an  orchestra,)  these,  as  hitherto, 
are  still,  for  me,  among  my  hopes,  ambitions. 

"  Leaves  of  Grass,"  already  publish'd,  is,  in  its  intentions,  the 
song  of  a  great  composite  democratic  individual,  male  or  female. 
And  following  on  and  amplifying  the  same  purpose,  I  sup- 
pose I  have  in  my  mind  to  run  through  the  chants  of  this  vol- 
ume, (if  ever  completed,)  the  thread-voice,  more  or  less  audible, 


280 


COLLECT. 


of  an  aggregated,  inseparable,  unprecedented,  vast,  composite, 
electric  democratic  nationality. 

Purposing,  then,  to  still  fill  out,  from  time  to  time  through 
years  to  come,  the  following  volume,  (unless  prevented,)  I  con- 
clude this  preface  to  the  first  instalment  of  it,  pencil'd  in  the 
open  air,  on  my  fifty-third  birth-day,  by  wafting  to  you,  dear 
reader,  whoever  you  are,  (from  amid  the  fresh  scent  of  the  grass, 
the  pleasant  coolness  of  the  forenoon  breeze,  the  lights  and 
shades  of  tree-boughs  silently  dappling  and  playing  around  me, 
and  the  notes  of  the  cat -bird  for  undertone  and  accompaniment,) 
my  true  good-will  and  love.  W.  W. 

Washington,  D.  C,  May  31,  1872. 


PREFACE.  1876, 

to  the  two-volume  Centennial  Edition 

of  L.  of  G.  and  "  Two  Rivulets." 

At  the  eleventh  hour,  under  grave  illness,  I  gather  up  the 
pieces  of  prose  and  poetry  left  over  since  publishing,  a  while 
since,  my  first  and  main  volume,  "  Leaves  of  Grass" — pieces, 
here,  some  new,  some  old — nearly  all  of  them  (sombre  as  many 
are,  making  this  almost  death's  book)  composed  in  by-gone  at- 
mospheres of  perfect  health — and  preceded  by  the  freshest  col- 
lection, the  little  "  Two  Rivulets,"  now  send  them  out,  embodied 
in  the  present  melange,  partly  as  my  contribution  and  outpour- 
ing to  celebrate,  in  some  sort,  the  feature  of  the  time,  the  first 
centennial  of  our  New  World  nationality — and  then  as  chyle  and 
nutriment  to  that  moral,  indissoluble  union,  equally  representing 
all,  and  the  mother  of  many  coming  centennials. 

And  e'en  for  flush  and  proof  of  our  America — for  reminder, 
just  as  much,  or  more,  in  moods  of  towering  pride  and  joy,  I 
keep  my  special  chants  of  death  and  immortality*  to  stamp  the 

*  Passage  to  India. — As  in  some  ancient  legend-play,  to  close  the  plot 
and  the  hero's  career,  there  is  a  farewell  gathering  on  ship's  deck  and  on 
shore,  a  loosing  of  hawsers  and  ties,  a  spreading  of  sails  to  the  wind — a  start- 
ing out  on  unknown  seas,  to  fetch  up  no  one  knows  whither — to  return  no 
more — and  the  curtain  falls,  and  there  is  the  end  of  it — so  I  have  reserv'd 
that  poem,  with  its  cluster,  to  finish  and  explain  much  that,  without  them, 
would  not  be  explain'd,  and  to  take  leave,  and  escape  for  good,  from  all  that 
has  preceded  them.  (Then  probably  "  Passage  to  India,"  and  its  cluster,  are 
but  freer  vent  and  fuller  expression  to  what,  from  the  first,  and  so  on  through- 


PREFACE,  1876.  281 

coloring-finish  of  all,  present  and  past.  For  terminus  and  tem- 
perer  to  all,  they  were  originally  written ;  and  that  shall  be  their 
office  at  the  last. 

out,  more  or  less  lurks  in  my  writings,  underneath  every  page,  every  line, 
everywhere.) 

I  am  not  sure  but  the  last  inclosing  sublimation  of  race  or  poem  is,  what  it 
thinks  of  death.  After  the  rest  has  been  comprehended  and  said,  even  the 
grandest — after  those  contributions  to  mightiest  nationality,  or  to  sweetest 
song,  or  to  the  best  personalism,  male  or  female,  have  been  glean'd  from  the 
rich  and  varied  themes  of  tangible  life,  and  have  been  fully  accepted  and 
sung,  and  the  pervading  fact  of  visible  existence,  with  the  duty  it  devolves,  is 
rounded  and  apparently  completed,  it  still  remains  to  be  really  completed  by 
suffusing  through  the  whole  and  several,  that  other  pervading  invisible  fact, 
so  large  a  part,  (is  it  not  the  largest  part?)  of  life  here,  combining  the  rest, 
and  furnishing,  for  person  or  State,  the  only  permanent  and  unitary  meaning 
to  all,  even  the  meanest  life,  consistently  with  the  dignity  of  the  universe,  in 
Time.  As  from  the  eligibility  to  this  thought,  and  the  cheerful  conquest  of 
this  fact,  flash  forth  the  first  distinctive  proofs  of  the  soul,  so  to  me,  (extend- 
ing it  only  a  little  further,)  the  ultimate  Democratic  purports,  the  ethereal  and 
spiritual  ones,  are  to  concentrate  here,  and  as  fixed  stars,  radiate  hence.  For, 
in  my  opinion,  it  is  no  less  than  this  idea  of  immortality,  above  all  other  ideas, 
that  is  to  enter  into,  and  vivify,  and  give  crowning  religious  stamp,  to  democ- 
racy in  the  New  World. 

It  was  originally  my  intention,  after  chanting  in  "Leaves  of  Grass"  the 
songs  of  the  body  and  existence,  to  then  compose  a  further,  equally  needed 
volume,  based  on  those  convictions  of  perpetuity  and  conservation  which,  en- 
veloping all  precedents,  make  the  unseen  soul  govern  absolutely  at  last.  I 
meant,  while  in  a  sort  continuing  the  theme  of  my  first  chants,  to  shift  the 
slides,  and  exhibit  the  problem  and  paradox  of  the  same  ardent  and  fully  ap- 
pointed personality  entering  the  sphere  of  the  resistless  gravitation  of  spiritual 
law,  and  with  cheerful  face  estimating  death,  not  at  all  as  the  cessation,  but 
as  somehow  what  I  feel  it  must  be,  the  entrance  upon  by  far  the  greatest  part 
of  existence,  and  something  that  life  is  at  least  as  much  for,  as  it  is  for  itself. 
But  the  full  construction  of  such  a  work  is  beyond  my  powers,  and  must  re- 
main for  some  bard  in  the  future.  The  physical  and  the  sensuous,  in  them- 
selves or  in  their  immediate  continuations,  retain  holds  upon  me  which  I  think 
are  never  entirely  releas'd;  and  those  holds  I  have  not  only  not  denied,  but 
hardly  wish'd  to  weaken. 

Meanwhile,  not  entirely  to  give  the  go-by  to  my  original  plan,  and  far  more 
to  avoid  a  mark'd  hiatus  in  it,  than  to  entirely  fulfil  it,  I  end  my  books  with 
thoughts,  or  radiations  from  thoughts,  on  death,  immortality,  and  a  free  en- 
trance into  the  spiritual  world.  In  those  thoughts,  in  a  sort,  I  make  the  first 
steps  or  studies  toward  the  mighty  theme,  from  the  point  of  view  necessitated 
by  my  foregoing  poems,  and  by  modern  science.  In  them  I  also  seek  to  set 
the  key-stone  to  my  democracy's  enduring  arch.  I  recollate  them  now,  for 
the  press,  in  order  to  partially  occupy  and  offset  days  of  strange  sickness,  and 
the  heaviest  affliction  and  bereavement  of  my  life;  and  I  fondly  please  myself 
with  the  notion  of  leaving  that  cluster  to  you,  O  unknown  reader  of  the 
future,  as  "  something  to  remember  me  by,"  more  especially  than  all  else. 
Written  in  former  days  of  perfect  health,  little  did  I  think  the  pieces  had  the 
purport  that  now,  under  present  circumstances,  opens  to  me 

[As  I  write  these  lines,  May  31,  1875,  it  is  again  early  summer — again  my 

24 


282  COLLECT. 

For  some  reason — not  explainable  or  definite  to  my  own  mind, 
yet  secretly  pleasing  and  satisfactory  to  it — I  have  not  hesitated 
to  embody  in,  and  run  through  the  volume,  two  altogether  dis- 
tinct veins,  or  strata — politics  for  one,  and  for  the  other,  the 
pensive  thought  of  immortality.  Thus,  too,  the  prose  and  po- 
etic, the  dual  forms  of  the  present  book.  The  volume,  there- 
fore, after  its  minor  episodes,  probably  divides  into  these  two,  at 
first  sight  far  diverse,  veins  of  topic  and  treatment.  Three  points, 
in  especial,  have  become  very  dear  to  me,  and  all  through  I  seek 
to  make  them  again  and  again,  in  many  forms  and  repetitions,  as 
will  be  seen  :  i.  That  the  true  growth-characteristics  of  the  -de- 
mocracy of  the  New  World  are  henceforth  to  radiate  in  superior 
literary,  artistic  and  religious  expressions,  far  more  than  in  its  re- 
publican forms,  universal  suffrage,  and  frequent  elections,  (though 
these  are  unspeakably  important.)  2.  That  the  vital  political 
mission  of  the  United  States  is,  to  practically  solve  and  settle 
the  problem  of  two  sets  of  rights — the  fusion,  thorough  compati- 
bility and  junction  of  individual  State  prerogatives,  with  the  in- 
dispensable necessity  of  centrality  and  Oneness — the  national 
identity  power — the  sovereign  Union,  relentless,  permanently 
comprising  all,  and  over  all,  and  in  that  never  yielding  an  inch : 
then  3d.  Do  we  not,  amid  a  general  malaria  of  fogs  and  vapors, 
our  day,  unmistakably  see  two  pillars  of  promise,  with  grandest, 
indestructible  indications — one,  that  the  morbid  facts  of  Ameri- 
can politics  and  society  everywhere  are  but  passing  incidents  and 
flanges  of  our  unbounded  impetus  of  growth?  weeds,  annuals,  of 
the  rank,  rich  soil — not  central,  enduring,  perennial  things  ?    The 

birth-day — now  my  fifty-sixth.  Amid  the  outside  beauty  and  freshness,  the 
sunlight  and  verdure  of  the  delightful  season,  O  how  different  the  moral  at- 
mosphere amid  which  I  now  revise  this  Volume,  from  the  jocund  influence 
surrounding  the  growth  and  advent  of  "  Leaves  of  Grass."  I  occupy  myself, 
arranging  these  pages  for  publication,  still  envelopt  in  thoughts  of  the  death 
two  years  since  of  my  dear  Mother,  the  most  perfect  and  magnetic  character, 
the  rarest  combination  of  practical,  moral  and  spiritual,  and  the  least  selfish, 
of  all  and  any  I  have  ever  known — and  by  me  O  so  much  the  most  deeply 
loved — and  also  under  the  physical  affliction  of  a  tedious  attack  of  paralysis, 
obstinately  lingering  and  keeping  its  hold  upon  me,  and  quite  suspending  all 
bodily  activity  and  comfort.] 

Under  these  influences,  therefore,  I  still  feel  to  keep  "  Passage  to  India  "  for 
last  words  even  to  this  centennial  dithyramb.  Not  as,  in  antiquity,  at  highest 
festival  of  Egypt,  the  noisome  skeleton  of  death  was  sent  on  exhibition  to 
the  revelers,  for  zest  and  shadow  to  the  occasion's  joy  and  light — but  as  the 
marble  statue  of  the  normal  Greeks  at  Elis,  suggesting  death  in  the  form  of  a 
beautiful  and  perfect  young  man,  with  closed  eyes,  leaning  on  an  inverted 
torch — emblem  of  rest  and  aspiration  after  action— of  crown  and  point  which 
all  lives  and  poems  should  steadily  have  reference  to,  namely,  the  justified 
and  noble  termination  of  our  identity,  this  grade  of  it,  and  outlet-preparation 
to  another  grade. 


PREFACE,  1876.  283 

other,  that  all  the  hitherto  experience  of  the  Sates,  their  first  cen- 
tury, has  been  but  preparation,  adolescence — and  that  this  Union 
is  only  now  and  henceforth,  (/.  e.  since  the  secession  war,)  to  enter 
on  its  full  democratic  career? 

Of  the  whole,  poems  and  prose,  (not  attending  at  all  to  chro- 
nological order,  and  with  original  dates  and  passing  allusions  in 
the  heat  and  impression  of  the  hour,  left  shuffled  in,  and  undis- 
turb'd,)  the  chants  of  "  Leaves  of  Grass,"  my  former  volume, 
yet  serve  as  the  indispensable  deep  soil,  or  basis,  out  of  which, 
and  out  of  which  only,  could  come  the  roots  and  stems  more 
definitely  indicated  by  these  later  pages.  (While  that  volume 
radiates  physiology  alone,  the  present  one,  though  of  the  like 
origin  in  the  main,  more  palpably  doubtless  shows  the  pathology 
which  was  pretty  sure  to  come  in  time  from  the  other.) 

In  that  former  and  main  volume,  composed  in  the  flush  of  my 
health  and  strength,  from  the  age  of  30  to  50  years,  I  dwelt  on 
birth  and  life,  clothing  my  ideas  in  pictures,  days,  transactions 
of  my  time,  to  give  them  positive  place,  identity — saturating 
them  with  that  vehemence  of  pride  and  audacity  of  freedom 
necessary  to  loosen  the  mind  of  still-to-be-form'd  America  from 
the  accumulated  folds,  the  superstitions,  and  all  the  long,  tena- 
cious and  stifling  anti-democratic  authorities  of  the  Asiatic  and 
European  past — my  enclosing  purport  being  to  express,  above  all 
artificial  regulation  and  aid,  the  eternal  bodily  composite,  cumu- 
lative, natural  character  of  one's  self.* 

*  Namely,  a  character,  making  most  of  common  and  normal  elements,  to 
the  superstructure  of  which  not  only  the  precious  accumulations  of  the  learn- 
ing and  experiences  of  the  Old  World,  and  the  settled  social  and  municipal 
necessities  and  current  requirements,  so  long  a-building,  shall  still  faithfully 
contribute,  but  which  at  its  foundations  and  carried  up  thence,  and  receiving 
its  impetus  from  the  democratic  spirit,  and  accepting  its  gauge  in  all  depart- 
ments from  the  democratic  formulas,  shall  again  directly  be  vitalized  by  the 
perennial  influences  of  Nature  at  first  hand,  and  the  old  heroic  stamina  of 
Nature,  the  strong  air  of  prairie  and  mountain,  the  dash  of  the  briny  sea,  the 
primary  antiseptics — of  the  passions,  in  all  their  fullest  heat  and  potency,  of 
courage,  rankness,  amativeness,  and  of  immense  pride.  Not  to  lose  at  all, 
therefore,  the  benefits  of  artificial  progress  and  civilization,  but  to  re-occupy 
for  Western  tenancy  the  oldest  though  ever- fresh  fields,  and  reap  from  them 
the  savage  and  sane  nourishment  indispensable  to  a  hardy  nation,  and  the  ab- 
sence of  which,  threatening  to  become  worse  and  worse,  is  the  most  serious 
lack  and  defect  to-day  of  our  New  World  literature. 

Not  but  what  the  brawn  of  "Leaves  of  Grass"  is,  I  hope,  thoroughly 
spiritualized  everywhere,  for  final  estimate,  but,  from  the  very  subjects,  the  di- 
rect effect  is  a  sense  of  the  life,  as  it  should  be,  of  flesh  and  blood,  and  phys 
ical  urge,  and  animalism.  While  there  are  other  themes,  and  plenty  of  ab- 
stract thoughts  and  poems  in  the  volume — while  I  have  put  in  it  passing  and 
rapid  but  actual  glimpses  of  the  great  struggle  between  the  nation  and  the 
slave-power,  (1861-65,)  as  the  fierce  and  bloody  panorama  of  that  contest 


284  COLLECT. 

Estimating  the  American  Union  as  so  far,  and  for  some  time  to 
come,  in  its  yet  formative  condition,  I  bequeath  poems  and  essays 

unroll'd  itself:  while  the  whole  book,  indeed,  revolves  around  that  four  years' 
war,  which,  as  I  was  in  the  midst  of  it,  becomes,  in  "  Drum-Taps,"  pivotal 
to  the  rest  entire — and  here  and  there,  before  and  afterward,  not  a  few  epi- 
sodes and  speculations — that — namely,  to  make  a  type-portrait  for  living,  ac- 
tive, worldly,  healthy  personality,  objective  as  well  as  subjective,  joyful  and 
potent,  and  modern  and  free,  distinctively  for  the  use  of  the  United  States, 
male  and  female,  through  the  long  future — has  been,  I  say,  my  general  ob- 
ject. (Probably,  indeed,  the  whole  of  these  varied  songs,  and  all  my  wri- 
tings, both  volumes,  only  ring  changes  in  some  sort,  on  the  ejaculation,  How 
vast,  how  eligible,  how  joyful,  how  real,  is  a  human  being,  himself  or  her- 
self.) 

Though  from  no  definite  plan  at  the  time,  I  see  now  that  I  have  uncon- 
sciously sought,  by  indirections  at  least  as  much  as  directions,  to  express  the 
whirls  and  rapid  growth  and  intensity  of  the  United  States,  the  prevailing 
tendency  and  events  of  the  Nineteenth  century,  and  largely  the  spirit  of  the 
whole  current  world,  my  time ;  for  I  feel  that  I  have  partaken  of  that  spirit, 
as  I  have  been  deeply  interested  in  all  those  events,  the  closing  of  long- 
stretch'd  eras  and  ages,  and,  illustrated  in  the  history  of  the  United  States,  the 
opening  of  larger  ones.  (The  death  of  President  Lincoln,  for  instance,  fitly, 
historically  closes,  in  the  civilization  of  feudalism,  many  old  influences — 
drops  on  them,  suddenly,  a  vast,  gloomy,  as  it  were,  separating  curtain.) 

Since  I  have  been  ill,  (1873-74-75,)  mostly  without  serious  pain,  and  with 
plenty  of  time  and  frequent  inclination  to  judge  my  poems,  (never  composed 
with  eye  on  the  book-market,  nor  for  fame,  nor  for  any  pecuniary  profit,)  I 
have  felt  temporary  depression  more  than  once,  for  fear  that  in  "  Leaves  of 
Grass"  the  moral  parts  were  not  sufficiently  pronounc'd.  But  in  my  clearest 
and  calmest  moods  I  have  realized  that  as  those  "  Leaves,"  all  and  several, 
surely  prepare  the  way  for,  and  necessitate  morals,  and  are  adjusted  to  them, 
just  the  same  as  Nature  does  and  is,  they  are  what,  consistently  with  my  plan, 
they  must  and  probably  should  be.  (In  a  certain  sense,  while  the  Moral  is 
the  purport  and  last  intelligence  of  all  Nature,  there  is  absolutely  nothing  of 
the  moral  in  the  works,  or  laws,  or  shows  of  Nature.  Those  only  lead  inevi- 
tably to  it — begin  and  necessitate  it.) 

Then  I  meant  "  Leaves  of  Grass,"  as  published,  to  be  the  Poem  of  average 
Identity,  (of  yours,  whoever  you  are,  now  reading  these  lines.)  A  man  is  not 
greatest  as  victor  in  war,  nor  inventor  or  explorer,  nor  even  in  science,  or  in  his 
intellectual  or  artistic  capacity,  or  exemplar  in  some  vast  benevolence.  To 
the  highest  democratic  view,  man  is  most  acceptable  in  living  well  the  prac- 
tical life  and  lot  which  happens  to  him  as  ordinary  farmer,  sea-farer,  mechanic, 
clerk,  laborer,  or  driver — upon  and  from  which  position  as  a  central  basis  or 
pedestal,  while  performing  its  labors,  and  his  duties  as  citizen,  son,  husband, 
father  and  employ'd  person,  he  preserves  his  physique,  ascends,  developing, 
radiating  himself  in  other  regions — and  especially  where  and  when,  (greatest 
of  all,  and  nobler  than  the  proudest  mere  genius  or  magnate  in  any  field,)  he 
fully  realizes  the  conscience,  the  spiritual,  the  divine  faculty,  cultivated  well, 
exemplified  in  all  his  deeds  and  words,  through  life,  uncompromising  to  the 

en(j a  flight  loftier  than  any  of  Homer's  or  Shakspere's — broader  than  all 

poems  and  bibles — namely,  Nature's  own,  and  in  the  midst  of  it,  Yourself, 
your  own  Identity,  body  and  soul.  (All  serves,  helps — but  in  the  centre  of 
all,  absorbing  all,  giving,  for  your  purpose,  the  only  meaning  and  vitality  to 
all,  master  or  mistress  of  all,  under  the  law,  stands  Yourself.)     To  sing  the 


PREFACE,  1876.  285 

as  nutriment  and  influences  to  help  truly  assimilate  and  harden, 
and  especially  to  furnish  something  toward  what  the  States  most 
need  of  all,  and  which  seems  to  me  yet  quite  unsupplied  in  lit- 
erature, namely,  to  show  them,  or  begin  to  show  them,  themselves 
distinctively,  and  what  they  are  for.  For  though  perhaps  the 
main  points  of  all  ages  and  nations  are  points  of  resemblance, 
and,  even  while  granting  evolution,  are  substantially  the  same, 
there  are  some  vital  things  in  which  this  Republic,  as  to  its  indi- 
vidualities, and  as  a  compacted  Nation,  is  to  specially  stand  forth, 
and  culminate  modern  humanity.  And  these  are  the  very  things 
it  least  morally  and  mentally  knows — (though,  curiously  enough, 
it  is  at  the  same  time  faithfully  acting  upon  them.) 

I  count  with  such  absolute  certainty  on  the  great  future  of  the 
United  States — different  from,  though  founded  on,  the  past — 
that  I  have  always  invoked  that  future,  and  surrounded  myself 
with  it,  before  or  while  singing  my  songs.  (As  ever,  all  tends  to 
followings — America,  too,  is  a  prophecy.  What,  even  of  the  best 
and  most  successful,  would  be  justified  by  itself  alone?  by  the 
present,  or  the  material  ostent  alone  ?  Of  men  or  States,  few 
realize  how  much  they  live  in  the  future.  That,  rising  like  pin- 
nacles, gives  its  main  significance  to  all  You  and  I  are  doing  to- 
day.    Without  it,  there  were  little  meaning  in  lands  or  poems — 

Song  of  that  law  of  average  Identity,  and  of  Yourself,  consistently  with  the 
divine  law  of  the  universal,  is  a  main  intention  of  those  "  Leaves." 

Something  more  may  be  added — for,  while  I  am  about  it,  I  would  make  a 
full  confession.  I  also  sent  out  "  Leaves  of  Grass  "  to  arouse  and  set  flowing 
in  men's  and  women's  hearts,  young  and  old,  endless  streams  of  living,  pulsa- 
ting love  and  friendship,  directly  from  them  to  myself,  now  and  ever.  To 
this  terrible,  irrepressible  yearning,  (surely  more  or  less  down  underneath  in 
most  human  souls) — this  never-satisfied  appetite  for  sympathy,  and  this 
boundless  offering  of  sympathy — this  universal  democratic  comradeship — this 
old,  eternal,  yet  ever-new  interchange  of  adhesiveness,  so  fitly  emblematic  of 
America — I  have  given  in  that  book,  undisguisedly,  declaredly,  the  openest 
expression.  Besides,  important  as  they  are  in  my  purpose  as  emotional  ex- 
pressions for  humanity,  the  special  meaning  of  the  "Calamus"  cluster  of 
"  Leaves  of  Grass,"  (and  more  or  less  running  through  the  book,  and  crop- 
ping out  in  "  Drum-Taps,")  mainly  resides  in  its  political  significance.  In  my 
opinion,  it  is  by  a  fervent,  accepted  development  of  comradeship,  the  beauti- 
ful and  sane  affection  of  man  for  man,  latent  in  all  the  young  fellows,  north 
and  south,  east  and  west — it  is  by  this,  I  say,  and  by  what  goes  directly  and 
indirectly  along  with  it,  that  the  United  States  of  the  future,  (I  cannot  too 
often  repeat,)  are  to  be  most  effectually  welded  together,  intercalated,  anneal'd 
into  a  living  union. 

Then,  for  enclosing  clue  of  all,  it  is  imperatively  and  ever  to  be  borne  in 
mind  that  "  Leaves  of  Grass  "  entire  is  not  to  be  construed  as  an  intellectual 
or  scholastic  effort  or  poem  mainly,  but  more  as  a  radical  utterance  out  of 
the  Emotions  and  the  Physique — an  utterance  adjusted  to,  perhaps  born  of, 
Democracy  and  the  Modern — in  its  very  nature  regardless  of  the  old  conven- 
tions, and,  under  the  great  laws,  following  only  its  own  impulses. 


286  COLLECT. 

little  purport  in  human  lives.  All  ages,  all  Nations  and  States, 
have  been  such  prophecies.  But  where  any  former  ones  with 
prophecy  so  broad,  so  clear,  as  our  times,  our  lands — as  those  of 
the  West  ?) 

Without  being  a  scientist,  I  have  thoroughly  adopted  the  con- 
clusions of  the  great  savans  and  experimentalists  of  our  time, 
and  of  the  last  hundred  years,  and  they  have  interiorly  tinged 
the  chyle  of  all  my  verse,  for  purposes  beyond.  Following  the 
modern  spirit,  the  real  poems  of  the  present,  ever  solidifying  and 
expanding  into  the  future,  must  vocalize  the  vastness  and  splen- 
dor and  reality  with  which  scientism  has  invested  man  and  the 
universe,  (all  that  is  called  creation,)  and  must  henceforth  launch 
humanity  into  new  orbits,  consonant  with  that  vastness,  splendor, 
and  reality,  (unknown  to  the  old  poems,)  like  new  systems  of 
orbs,  balanced  upon  themselves,  revolving  in  limitless  space,  more 
subtle  than  the  stars.  Poetry,  so  largely  hitherto  and  even  at 
present  wedded  to  children's  tales,  and  to  mere  amorousness, 
upholstery  and  superficial  rhyme,  will  have  to  accept,  and,  while 
not  denying  the  past,  nor  the  themes  of  the  past,  will  be  revivified 
by  this  tremendous  innovation,  the  kosmic  spirit,  which  must 
henceforth,  in  my  opinion,  be  the  background  and  underlying 
impetus,  more  or  less  visible,  of  all  first-class  songs. 

Only,  (for  me,  at  any  rate,  in  all  my  prose  and  poetry,)  j